aamc.org does not support this web browser.

More Physicians Alone Won’t Solve Rural America’s Health Care Problems

Feb. 14, 2024

Writing in Marshall University’s Marshall Journal of Medicine, AAMC Research and Action Institute Executive Director Atul Grover, MD, PhD asks policymakers, physicians, and the broader medical community to consider redefining the problem of rural health care.  

The image depicts crude death rates of across metro and nonmetro USA, and for metro and nonmetro West Virginia.

Figure 1. 2021 Crude Death Rates Per 100,000 Population in the United States and West Virginia by Metropolitan Status

Source: Grover A. More Physicians Alone Won’t Solve Rural America’s Health Care Problems. Marshall J Med. 2024; 10(1) DOI: https://doi.org/10.33470/2379-9536.1437.

While the most prominent suggestion from policymakers for improving rural health care has been to locate family doctors and other primary care physicians within rural communities, data has shown that access alone does not necessarily translate to better health. Rural residents still face disproportionately worse health outcomes than urban residents across the spectrum of disease. Grover suggests that improving rural health disparities may require interventions beyond traditional primary and preventive care that also target social inequities and access to specialty care.