Research Outline

Rural Physicians


To get a detailed overview of rural physicians, including information on the total number of rural physicians in the US (numbers no older than 2017), key challenges facing the recruitment of rural physicians, profiles available on rural physicians (particularly women); average patient load of rural physicians, and interesting facts about rural physicians. This research will be used for adding flavor and accuracy to a fiction piece.

Early Findings

Our background research about the topic unveiled the following information:


  • About nine percent of all US medical practitioners or physicians and 12 percent of all pharmacists make up the current medical workforce in the rural areas of the US.
  • There were 55 primary care physicians per 100,000 residents in rural areas in 2005, in comparison to 72 per 100,000 in urban areas, this figure further decreases to 36 per 100,000 in isolated and small rural areas.
  • The National Rural Health Association, in its most recent statement, reported "a ratio of patients to primary care physicians in rural areas at 39.8 per 100,000, compared to 53.3 per 100,000 in urban areas. Family physicians, who make up only 15% of the physician workforce nationwide, provide 42% of the care in rural areas."
  • There are only 1,875 community hospitals in the rural regions of the US.
  • "The Health Resources and Services Administration has classified 7,200 regions across the country as Health Professional Shortage Areas", out of the 7,200, about 60 percent are located in the rural areas.


  • A recent study conducted at the "Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care" found out that females who were not born in a rural setting were most likely to move out of practicing in rural areas.
  • Additionally, the lack of especially targeted incentives in rural settings is also a cause of the decline in the number of physicians in rural areas. It has also been observed that retaining primary health physicians in rural settings gets even more complex because physicians come along with their family, and rural areas do not offer enough facilities to lure them as compared to urban settings.