Rural Life & Practice

What is Rural?

Rural is many things to many different people. Ask a person in Los Angeles what they believe is rural, and the answer will likely be totally different than what someone in Des Moines, Iowa, would say.

The federal government even has several different definitions, usually based on travel distances, geographical barriers, travel times and population density, among other factors. Other terms that can also mean rural are micropolitan, non-metropolitan and frontier.

Life & Practice in Rural America

Rural areas in the United States are undergoing major changes. Health information technology and growth of health care networks are contributing to that change. Some highlights of how rural America is changing are:

  • Increasing rural populations
  • Rural areas no longer isolated from mainstream urban life
  • Increasing similarities in economic structure of rural and urban America
  • Rural people share much knowledge, attitudes and beliefs with urban people
  • Rural America more diverse than previously thought

Here are some more resources about how some people, and government, see rural areas.

See what other residents have to say about rural family medicine.

Adrianne Westmoreland, DO, PGY3
Seneca Lakes Family Medicine Residency Program, Seneca, SC

This community, this residency, and this type of medicine are exactly what I hoped for when I pursued rural family practice. The opportunity to provide care for an entire family – from the baby I delivered, to the grandmother I transitioned to hospice care – is an invaluable opportunity to make ourselves part of a greater whole.


Rachel Hartline, MD, PGY2
Baraboo Family Medicine Residency Program, Baraboo, WI

What I love about my rural training site is that it allows me the flexibility and connections of a well-known and respected department of family medicine as the procedural and high-risk opportunities of rural family medicine. It is truly the best of both worlds! I am so happy with my program.


Matt Kaiser, MD, R1
Spokane Family Medicine Residency, Colville, WA

Rural medicine really provides a practice setting that meets at the confluence of my values and interests. I would like to provide care to a population that may not have easy access to physicians.


Katrina Gardner, MD, R2
Spokane Family Medicine Residency, Colville, WA

It was there that I met the kind of doctors that I would like to become. They were so capable, compassionate and hardworking. I think of them every day as I continue my training as a resident. I knew I wanted to continue my rural training during residency because it is one of the few places I could get full-spectrum family medicine training that would allow me to do C-sections, gynecological procedures, colonoscopies, emergency care, intensivist medicine, etc.