Recruiting rural physicians hasn't been easy, and while Rhodes says the program has helped keep some physicians in the area, there is still room to improve retention of medical school graduates.
Rhodes notes that there are various problems that keep med students from staying in rural communities. Limited earning potential, especially for primary care physicians is one issue. A program is in place to offer $25,000 scholarship for med students if they agree to commit to a rural area for one year, but the fruits of those efforts have not been seen yet.
Telemedicine comes into play by combating feelings of isolation that physicians might experience in rural areas. While parts of West Virginia are sparsely populated, telemedicine allows physicians to maintain contact with other doctors and allow them to bounce ideas off of other professionals.
Rhodes says he loves West Virginia and all of the patients he gets to treat. He enjoys receiving hunting pictures from patients and talking to them about the farm animals they own.
It's why he helped cofound Bob Hartley's Camp Mountain Heart, a summer camp for children with congenital heart disease that finished its 18th run this summer. The camp is a place for children, many of whom have had heart surgery, to be a part of a community where they don't feel uncomfortable about having scars running down their chest or under their armpit.