Why young docs shun practicing in rural America

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

For a look at the quotidian struggles facing young doctors who accepted federal loan aid in exchange for a three-to-five-year commitment to practicing in underserved rural areas, The Washington Post‘s Darryl Fears profiles a 33-year-old, Northwestern-trained doctor working as the only full-time physician at a practice in rural Virginia.

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Photo by Bluegrass Annie via Flickr

Having learned her trade in a world of electronic medical records and iPhone diagnostic apps, the physician is at sea in a world of paper records, dial-up Internet and 40-mile drives to the full-size grocery store. There are few dating prospects, and even less culture. She’s not convinced that she’ll stay in town beyond her initial commitment.

Retaining these young, eager physicians is the next big challenge facing the stimulus-boosted National Health Service Corps, which placed thousands of doctors in rural areas last year, and is gearing up to do the same this year.

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