Improving access to healthcare in rural communities through locums.
“When I was six years old, my grandmother went into the hospital with a broken ankle,” says Jackson + Coker President Tim Fischer. “It was a rural area, and unfortunately, she died there. This really impacted me. Connecting doctors and advanced practitioners with the communities that need them is a personal mission.”
Rural communities have historically struggled to attract and maintain physicians and advanced practitioners. It’s a problem that affects the quality of life and care for 46 million Americans. This has created barriers to healthcare in rural areas, like the one Fischer is from.
“I grew up in a small town of 4,000 people in rural Illinois, and getting medical care was challenging. It was hard to find quality doctors,” says Fischer.
This experience is not unique. The need for patient care is becoming harder to meet amid the growing physician shortage. Disparities are growing and becoming more complex as the American population ages and many physicians are near retirement.
According to Rural Health Information Hub, three reasons healthcare professionals hesitate to practice in rural settings include:
- Heavy workloads.
- Increased patient volume.
- Difficulty taking time off.
The view is changing with the help of locum tenens and telehealth solutions. In 2021 and 2022, 88% of healthcare organizations incorporated locums into their staffing solutions. The shift towards locum tenens in rural areas empowers healthcare systems with the flexibility to offer a broader range of services, while extending the number of patients they treat. Through proactive planning, leveraging locums for on-site and virtual care supports existing staff and reduces rural healthcare disparities. It also helps alleviate burnout through scheduled coverage while empowering organizations to adapt quickly to patient needs.
Helping others receive compassion and care through locum tenens is at the heart of what fuels Fischer’s – and J+C’s – work.
“When I had an opportunity to get involved in locum tenens and help underserved communities around the country that needed access to quality healthcare, I jumped at it,” says Fischer. “And that’s what we do here at Jackson + Coker. We connect providers and communities to transform lives. This is not just our mission statement; it’s something we believe in and live out each day. We’re making a difference in the world.”