It is undeniable that physicians practicing in small rural communities are a renowned and respected member of the community. Typically, when a doctor is hired to fill an opening at the local health center, it is a big deal, and word travels around town at the speed of light. What doesn’t happen very often is that the physician is introduced to the community via parade! That was recently the case in a small, rural western Oklahoma community of 1,500 people.
Dane Altman, Senior Vice President, Business Development for Jackson Physician Search was born in a small rural community in Oklahoma. When the Medical Director/Physician working at the local 24-bed critical access hospital was planning to retire, Jackson Physician Search received the contract to find his replacement. Dan Rixon, a JPS recruitment professional, began the search by visiting the community and meeting with facility leadership to develop a picture of the town and also the position he was tasked with recruiting. In setting expectations with the client, he made it clear that it might take some time to find the right physician who would be willing to relocate to such a small community. To keep things light, he informed the team that if he were to find the right physician before April 20th, he would participate in the town’s 50th Annual Cow Chip Throwing Tournament to be held at the county fair.
As is often the case, the search to find an experienced general practice physician who was willing to relocate to a small community was challenging. After four months, with little luck, everything changed. Dan was holding an online career fair when he was contacted by a physician, Dr. M., currently practicing in Florida. Dr. M. was unhappy in his current position and was looking for a new opportunity. As luck would have it, Dr. M. had family in the Dallas area, only a six-hour drive from the rural opportunity.
Dan coordinated a meeting between the leadership team at the hospital and Dr. M., and it was clear early on that this would be a very good fit. Dr. M. was looking for a position where he would be valued and treated with respect and also where he could be laser-focused on his career. As the new Medical Director, he would have that opportunity. Dr. M. was very excited about the opportunity to practice at the small hospital, manage the team of Nurse Practitioners, and also rotate through two other community health centers that were in neighboring areas. Within a month, everything came together, and Dr. M. accepted his offer.
This brings us to the World Championship Cow Chip Throwing competition. Both Dan and Dane attended the fair, and as promised participated in the tournament along with Dr. M.! Later, the local community gave their new physician the warmest of welcomes as he was introduced while riding in the festival parade.
Not every new small town physician will ride down Main Street in the back of a convertible waving to the crowd, but that feeling of being a valued and a respected member of the community is not uncommon. Small communities across the country have openings for physicians, and most if not all will make the community experience a highlight of the recruiting process. Community leaders are never shy about being invested in partnering with the town’s medical providers, and they typically play a role at some point during recruitment. This type of access to community influencers should not be discounted when on a site visit. There is much to learn from them about how their small, tight-knit community can offer a tangible change of pace from larger urban settings. Cost of living, quality of life, culture, and fit are all part of the consideration when looking at opportunities in rural America. Not every community can boast about their world champion cow chip tossers, but many of these opportunities offer more work/life balance, a slower pace, less noise and bustle, and a true appreciation for the work.
If you are looking for a new opportunity, whether you are willing to consider rural America like Dr. M., or you want a position in a larger urban setting, Jackson Physician Search has openings for you to consider. Contact one of our physician recruitment professionals and get started today.