New research shows that between 2001 and 2019 the supply of general surgeons in the U.S. decreased by 29.1% in rural areas, and 18% overall. This is a crucial finding as general surgeons play a critical role in rural health care.
General surgeons in rural areas decrease the need for patients to travel for routine surgery, provide backup to rural primary care providers in emergency care, obstetrics, and orthopedics, and contribute substantially to the financial health of rural hospitals. The study also found rural general surgeons are older than their urban counterparts and fewer surgeons in rural areas are women. The research was conducted by the HRSA-funded WWAMI Rural Health Research Center.