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Dr. Mark Deutchman, professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, is a great role model for anyone interested in practicing medicine in a rural area. We spent a few minutes with him and asked him some questions about why he is so passionate about rural health care.

1. What advice would you give to someone interested in practicing in a rural area?

I would say several things. First, they will be able to practice the full scope of their training in a rural area. I would also advise them that rural areas are a great place to raise a family, and hopefully that their spouse or significant other is also interested in a rural are. You go to a rural area for several things. One is of course, your medical practice or area of health care you are working in. Second, you go to a rural area for the lifestyle. The lifestyle of a rural area involves being able to take advantage of the environmental and cultural aspects of that area. More than that, it’s the opportunity to become engaged in the community and have an impact on the population that you serve.

2. What characteristics, do you think, does a provider interested in working in a rural area need?

Number one – to be interested in being engaged in the community; to be involved in the health care and non-health care aspects of community life. I think the provider needs to be interested in being versatile because you often have to wear many hats which is part of the rewarding part of being in a rural community. Also, a provider interested in working in a rural area needs to be interested in being a leader: being interested in looking beyond the one-to-one patient involvement and looking more at what’s going on in the community medically and non-medically.

3. What is rural “about”?

Rural is about being versatile, being willing to look at dealing with the resources that you have and making the best of them, and about partnering with other people in the community who have other skills that you need to make your job effective and to be able to help them do their job. 

4. What motivates you about rural health care?

My motivation is the fact that, number one, we’re needed in rural areas, and number two, that we really can make a difference. It’s very hard to see the effect of your work in an urban area, but in a rural area you have a much greater chance to see the results of what you do. 

5. What’s exciting to you about the future of rural health care?

The fact that our country is supposedly recognizing the value of preventive care and the value of accountable care, that we’re being looked at for the results we produce, you can see those results more in a rural area than in an urban area. I think the direction we’re going is recognizing the value of what we do in rural areas.

6. Why did you choose to work in a rural setting?

I chose to work in a rural setting because it’s where I can make a difference. I saw the need, I saw the fact that I was going to be appreciated, and the fact that I could make a difference. 

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