Shortages in physicians has been an increasing problem in recent years. As a result, there has been research into the specific specialties in which shortages are anticipated to be particularly problematic, as well as potential solutions for the problem. Even before provider shortages became a poignant issue, patients in rural parts of the country often struggled to access the care they needed, as providers tend to be more concentrated in and around urban areas.
While there has been much attention to changes in supply and demand in primary care, specialist shortages is also a major problem, as accessing specialized services can be difficult even in more rural areas. Given that the patients who live in rural areas are often older and less healthy than those in urban areas, it is particularly important that they can access the potentially life-saving interventional radiology services that are more abundant in more densely populated parts of the country.
A new report, published by a joint task force including members from the American College of Radiology and the Society for Interventional Radiology in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, has pointed specifically to the growing challenge of those in rural areas to access services from interventional radiologists. The impact of the scarcity of these services in rural areas is felt not only by patients but also hospital and others in rural communities. In this report, strategies for recruiting and retaining interventional radiologists in rural areas were discussed.
The report highlights survey data demonstrating that nearly half of all trained interventional radiologists were reluctant to practice in rural areas. Some details of the report focused on how to improve training opportunities and adjusting financial incentives to make practicing interventional radiology in rural areas more attractive. It also delved into some detail on how to adjust policies to improve the willingness of interventional radiologists to practice in the healthcare settings available in rural areas.
As these recommendations are implemented, the resulting data will help to clarify what works for incentivizing interventional radiologists to practice in rural versus urban settings. Ideally, these insights will help to solve the problem of shortages in interventional radiologists in rural areas as well as shortages of other medical specialists.
Findeiss LK, Everett C, Azene E, et al. Interventional Radiology Workforce Shortages Affecting Small and Rural Practices: A Report of the SIR/ACR Joint Task Force on Recruitment and Retention of Interventional Radiologists to Small and Rural Practices. Journal of the American College of Radiology. 2022;0(0). doi:10.1016/J.JACR.2022.08.004