The United States is in the midst of a physician shortage. According to a report from the Association of American Medical Colleges, the country will need between 60,000 and 94,000 new physicians by 2025.
While the shortfall is generally bad news for both healthcare providers and patients, it does present a unique opportunity for newly minted medical doctors who now have more options than ever when it comes to deciding where to start their careers.
Many will seek employment with healthcare systems with large hospitals in heavily populated urban areas. Others will opt for teaching hospitals, where they will be involved with research and shaping the future of health care. Then there are those who will find their first physician jobs at community hospitals, where they will cut their teeth on a variety of cases, build strong connections with the community and have extensive opportunities for growth.
In fact, the majority of all doctors who work in hospital settings are employed by community hospitals. Some start their careers in other areas, most start in a community hospital and stay there. Here are three reasons why:
At first glance, it may seem counterintuitive, but a community hospital often offers new physicians more opportunities than a hospital in a large, urban area.
The community hospital physician often needs to become a “jack- or jill-of-all-trades” because there are fewer specialists on staff. This means that you’ll be responsible for providing direct care to patients with a broad range of illnesses.
Physicians who get their first jobs at a community hospital often see cases they didn’t come across in medical school or during their residency sooner than those who start with larger healthcare systems.
In many communities across the country, the community hospital is the only game in town. People depend on it for all of their healthcare needs–from primary care to acute care to specialty care. This allows community hospital physicians to build deep connections with the patients they serve and the communities in which they live.
In addition, there is often less bureaucracy at community hospitals, meaning physicians often have more decision-making authority, fewer quotas and are able to have a role in shaping the future of the organization and its role in the community.
These connections often lead to opportunities to play important leadership roles in the community–from serving on philanthropic boards to partnering with the business community to supporting arts and culture in the area.
Cost of living, commuting, crime and recreational opportunities all combine to create a quality of life, which is important when it comes to choosing where to begin your career.
While it’s true that physicians practicing in urban or large suburban areas often earn slightly higher salaries than those who practice in community hospitals, it is also generally true that community hospital physicians enjoy lower costs of living, shorter commutes with less traffic and lower rates of stress.
It is also true that earning a slightly lower salary at a community hospital can actually leave you with more money (and far less stress) at the end of each year because of the lower cost of living and lower cost of real estate.
Yes, quality of life should be an important consideration when choosing where to start your career–and the quality of life at a community hospital is often higher than it is at a hospital that is owned by a large healthcare system.
Being a doctor isn’t all about the money. It’s also about opportunities, connections and quality of life, all of which you’ll find at community hospitals.
At Elliot Health System we believe in outstanding physician career opportunities and a positive work-life balance, which is why we created a free Outdoor Adventure Guide for anyone considering relocating to the area. Check it out!
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