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Rural Orthopaedic Surgery

Discussion in 'Orthopaedic Surgery' started by GAdoc, Apr 30, 2007.

  1. GAdoc

    GAdoc GAdoc 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2005
    Let me start by saying I will be starting med school this fall, so I am not sure that in four years I will a. still want to do orthopedic surgery and/or b. have the board scores/grades to pursue it.

    With that being said, I will be attending Mercer University, a small, private school in middle Georgia. Mercer has the stated mission of turning out doctors who are committed to practicing in rural Georgia. I come from a small Georgia town and ultimately my desire is to return there to practice.

    For those of you who are residents or even M3 or M4s considering orthopedics, what is your take on being a rural orthopedic surgeon? I'm sure many of the pros and cons discussed in "General Surgery" apply here, but there will also be some differences. For example, ortho is not technically considered a primary care specialty. I'm not sure how that would affect things like call and trauma, but I'm willing to bet if there was one general surgeon and one ortho in town, the ortho surgeon would sleep more at night.

    What do yall think some of the pros and cons would be?
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    SOUNDMAN Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    May 16, 2004
    Most literature and orthopods would say that you need atleast 100K population (from the surrounding area or whatever) to draw from to have a decent practice. In addition a small hospital has to want to invest in the equipment, as well as the training for you to do cases there. Also the inpatient care for hip fractures, etc needs to be present with nurses, FP/IM docs, etc unless you plan on managing all of these patients HTN, Diabetes, etc.

    You need a good supporting cast to pull it off, and a hospital willing to foot the bill sometimes.
  4. pagemmapants

    pagemmapants Unknown Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 7, 2005
    Yakima, WA is a town of 70k with approx 200k in the county surrounding. At last count (so far as I know) there were 10 orthopedic surgeons there (two hand specialists and 1 OB/Gyn double-board). Nearby Goldendale, WA has a population just shy of 4K and has one orthodoc. I can imagine that small towns can at least handle one. Any anecdotal evidence from other small(ish) towns?
  5. GAdoc

    GAdoc GAdoc 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2005

    The rural, North Ga town I'm from has only about 2,000 residents. The surrounding county has about 30,000 total residents (if you can believe it, the town I refer to is the the largest in the's that for rural living?). There is at least one orthopedic surgeon I know of who serves the community. I would imagine he is supported by the local hospital but i'm not sure to what extent. I know he's fellowship trained in sports medicine, but I'm sure he spend most of his time with general orthopedics.

    I'm just trying to get an idea for how a lone orthopedic surgeon in such a community would spend his/her time. I wonder how much call, how much trauma, etc. etc.
  6. Zoom-Zoom

    Zoom-Zoom 7+ Year Member

    Dec 13, 2005
    I used to live up in Truckee, CA population ~13,000. There were at least 3 ortho docs with a very successful practice up there...but they did get a lot of overflow from the surrounding Lake Tahoe area, plus a lot of athletes and ski-related injuries.
  7. pedisurg

    pedisurg Junior Member 10+ Year Member

    Oct 24, 2002
    Hi ga doc, Im a Mercer grad, getting near the end of my ortho residency, and have a job in a very rural part of georgia. Its really doable if you want it. Centerville is close enough to Warner Robbins/Macon that there is good orthopaedic care nearby and easily accessable. So much so that people may prefer to drive to MAcon to have their hip done, etc...they may associate the small hospital in Centerville with being inferior to the larger medical center.

    Its your job to talk with the hospital ceo, etc...AFTER you get an Ortho spot, to determine feasability of a practice in your area. I am sure the solo practicioner would also be grateful for you to join him to share call/office overhead, etc...

    If you can send me an email though my profile, I'd be glad to speak to you more regarding your route through Mercer and how to maximize your chances of obtaining an ortho spot.
  8. pedisurg

    pedisurg Junior Member 10+ Year Member

    Oct 24, 2002
    pretty funny, my login name!!

    Chose it when I though I wanted to be a pediatric surgeon!!

    Thank God I didnt do general surgery

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