How Academic Medicine is Caring for and Serving Rural Communities Nationwide

An estimated 62 million Americans live in rural communities. These Americans face a unique set of challenges that often lead to poorer overall health outcomes, such as higher incidences of diabetes and coronary heart disease. On top of that, living in geographically remote areas can present challenges to patients seeking high-quality medical care.

Congress can help improve the health of these communities and close rural health care gaps by investing more in the recruitment and retention of physicians and other health care workers to help expand health care access in underserved communities.

How AAMC Member-Institutions are Offering Solutions

AAMC-member institutions are implementing creative solutions to address these challenges and ensure that sufficient physicians are serving rural communities and that all patients have access to affordable, high-quality care. These solutions include:

  • Advocating for increased federally supported graduate medical education (GME) residency positions in rural and underserved areas to help expand physician training and increase patient access to care.
  • Partnering with rural hospitals and clinical training sites in developing Rural Track Programs (RTPs) to increase the number of physicians training in rural areas and improve rural health outcomes.
  • Bringing mobile clinics to remote areas to serve more patients in need.
  • Supporting student loan forgiveness programs to lessen students’ financial burden while increasing the likelihood they practice in rural areas.

With projections estimating a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians by 2034, a physician shortage that rural and historically underserved areas may experience more acutely, now is the time for Congress to increase the number of Medicare-supported medical residency positions so that teaching hospitals and health systems serving rural communities can train new physicians and continue to find innovative ways to increase access to care for patients.

An image of a rural mountain landscape with text that reads, "Congress can close health care gaps in rural communities by expanding the physician workforce through Medicare-supported GME and HRSA workforce programs"

AAMC Action’s Rural Health Day of Action

On November 16, 2023, the AAMC will host a virtual Rural Health Day of Action to engage our member medical schools, teaching hospitals and health systems to underscore the value they bring to rural communities. The goal is to be able to widely show how academic medicine improves patient health, discovers medical breakthroughs in research, and shapes the future of medicine in rural communities.

The AAMC’s Day of Action complements National Rural Health Day, celebrated annually by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH), and is an opportunity to raise awareness and honor the efforts of rural health care providers, communities, organizations, state offices, and other stakeholders committed to addressing the unique health care needs of rural Americans.

Mark your calendars for November 16, and take part in our day of action by Tweeting your support for advancing access to high-quality health care across rural communities in the country.

Do you have a program or initiative that brings value to rural communities? We’d love to hear from you. Share with your community today.