Ileana Maria Ponce-Gonzalez, MD, MPH, our Executive Director, at Washington Medical Commission.
On Oct. 4th, 2019 I had a great opportunity to talk to many of our physicians with different specialties in the state of Washington about Social Inequalities and the Barriers to Practice Medicine in Underserved Populations during the annual conference of the Washington Medical Commission. And what I liked most was the interest of our representatives of the Medical Commission about social inequalities, community needs, and other clinical interests. All my admiration for this prestigious work.
I would like to share the most important points of my presentation. I shared my respect and admiration for the doctors who work in rural areas. Rural doctors faced many barriers and they wear many hats: they can be a Family Doctor, a CMO, a QI / QA Director, a gynecologist, pediatrician, etc. Their personal car can be used as an ambulance to transport a patient to the hospital. They can be on call 24/7 shifts for when an emergency occurs. They often do not have adequate diagnostic resources, pharmacy, or dentistry. They usually do not have enough staff to assist them, and everyone is busy. For Rural Doctors, family time is not family time, it is a patient time. Their vacation depends on their patients. Sometimes they have to drive long distances to get their clinic, which can be a trailer 45 miles from the nearest pharmacy. Their health center can be surrounded by 10 casinos. And most importantly, they sacrifice their family to live in a rural area, where their children may not have the best schools. Let’s support our rural doctors with more funds, more resources, opening more modern rural hospitals, and better training for health professionals, who serve the rural population. And remember that 19-25% of the population of the Unity States live in rural areas and that only 10% of doctors work in rural areas.