Rising up in rural Center Tennessee, Thomas Atkins, MD, noticed firsthand the necessity for improved entry to well being care exterior of cities and metropolitan areas.
“Individuals in my neighborhood must determine between taking off work and driving all the way in which to Nashville to get take care of one thing, or simply coping with being sick in order that they don’t lose the paycheck,” he stated.
A 2022 graduate of UTHSC, Dr. Atkins is the primary rural observe resident within the Faculty of Medication – Nashville’s household drugs program. The pilot program is a state-funded effort to get rid of a scarcity of physicians in rural areas, highlighting UTHSC’s dedication to enhancing the well being of each individual throughout the state of Tennessee.
The three-year residency, based mostly at Ascension Saint Thomas River Park in McMinnville and Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford in Murfreesboro, will practice Dr. Atkins not solely find out how to apply drugs in a hospital setting, but additionally find out how to handle the issues particular to rural communities, the place sufferers are sometimes underserved.
“As a rural supplier, you must know quite a bit about quite a bit,” Dr. Atkins stated. “You is likely to be the one doctor inside 50 to 100 miles, so you must be prepared for something that comes by means of the door, and you must be assured in numerous stuff.”
The shortage of entry to high quality well being care in rural communities is why Dr. Atkins wished to review drugs. When he left his hometown of Nice View, he at all times supposed on returning to a rural neighborhood, if not the one the place he grew up. He accomplished his undergraduate diploma at Vanderbilt College – some 30 miles from Nice View – and he knew he wished to remain in Tennessee for medical faculty as properly.
“I really feel an actual connection to the state, and after I interviewed in any respect the medical colleges, I felt the deepest connection to UTHSC. The college there all appeared nice and keen to work with me towards my targets,” Dr. Atkins stated. “Then, after I acquired there, I actually appreciated the inclusive surroundings and the alternatives the varsity afforded. The scholars had been hard-working and really keen to assist different college students, and it felt like all people was on the identical staff.”
When Craig Glass, MD, affiliate director of the household drugs program, reached out in regards to the new rural observe residency, Dr. Atkins was virtually instantly on board. Upon graduating, he, his spouse, and their younger daughter moved to Center Tennessee, not removed from his hometown and his household, the place Dr. Atkins is now pioneering the agricultural observe residency.
Over the following few years, Dr. Atkins might be uncovered to the disparities rural communities face in accessing high quality well being care as a result of financial components, academic shortcomings, geographic isolation, and different causes. One of many points Dr. Atkins is taken with is the dearth of screening alternatives for preventable illnesses.
“When you solely have a handful of suppliers in an space, and folks have to decide on between a paycheck and going to see the supplier, they might miss their screenings for preventable issues like problems from hypertension or COPD or most cancers screenings. There’s the next incidence of these in rural and underserved populations,” Dr. Atkins stated. “Individuals in these underserved communities additionally usually have much less entry to their medicine and refills as a result of there aren’t sufficient suppliers within the space, so that you usually see poorly managed or under-managed diabetes and hypertension and issues that associate with that.”
In response to Dr. Atkins, it takes a sure form of individual to need to apply drugs in a rural neighborhood, and that’s a giant motive there’s a scarcity of rural physicians. He stated many medical doctors don’t need to depart the comforts of a giant metropolis, the place there are sometimes extra alternatives for development at hospitals and personal practices. Plus, being the one supplier in a comparatively giant space could be daunting, however it’s a problem Dr. Atkins appears ahead to dealing with.
After finishing his residency, Dr. Atkins plans to start working towards in rural Tennessee. Along with treating underserved sufferers, he additionally hopes to get entangled in well being care coverage to assist form the way in which the federal government and lawmakers deal with well being care points. “I need to do all the pieces I can to alleviate the burden of a scarcity of physicians that we’ve in Tennessee exterior the foremost metropolitan areas,” he stated.
Till he turns into a part of the answer to that difficulty, Dr. Atkins stated he desires to guarantee folks in rural communities that the panorama is altering, including that extra physicians are getting enthusiastic about bringing well being care to these underserved populations. He additionally hopes extra medical college students will take into account working towards in rural areas due to the affect they will have in a neighborhood.
“From my viewpoint, rural drugs is wonderful. You are able to do a lot good for thus many individuals. You generally is a pillar of that neighborhood that individuals look to and depend on, and I believe that brings numerous achievement,” he stated.
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