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6 Reasons Advanced Practice Providers Should Consider Rural Healthcare Jobs

Tara Osseck
November 15, 2023

Demand for Advanced Practice Providers (APPs) continues to grow in response to a worsening physician shortage and a population with increasing healthcare needs. According to an MGMA Stat Poll earlier this year, 65% of medical practices planned to add at least one new advanced practice provider job during 2023. At Jackson Physician Search, the number of nurse practitioner placements in 2022 was four times what it was in 2020, and so far, 2023 is following the trend.

Healthcare organizations nationwide are recruiting APPs, offering competitive pay and flexible schedules. However, the demand for APPs is highest in the areas of greatest need – which are often rural communities. In fact, nearly half of rural healthcare organizations already employ at least one APP. Rural APPs ensure patients have adequate access to high-quality care as part of a well-balanced care team. 

As VP of Recruitment in Jackson Physician Search’s Midwest division, my team and I frequently work with rural organizations seeking APPs. Located in smaller towns and sometimes isolated areas, these organizations are highly motivated to hire providers who can meet the needs of their communities. If you have been searching for APP jobs for any length of time, you already know that compensation and recruitment incentives are often more attractive with rural organizations; however, this is just one of many reasons to consider rural healthcare jobs. Keep reading to take a look at just a few:

Less Job Competition 

While demand for nurse practitioners and physician assistants is high, the competition for those jobs is significantly greater in urban and suburban areas where most advanced practice providers are likely to live. APPs with less experience, for example, will have far more options if they are willing to look outside major metros for work. Rural organizations are typically more open to hiring APPs right out of training, empowering them to learn on the job as part of an existing care team.

Professional Development

APPs in rural areas will usually encounter a much wider spectrum of cases than in a city or suburb where specialists abound. As part of a care team, APPs will learn from peers and mentors how to manage a variety of cases and gain experience in areas they may not be exposed to otherwise. The professional development gained in this environment will ultimately make them more qualified candidates if they later choose to pursue other opportunities. 

Work-Life Balance

In a  Jackson Physician Search and whitepaper focused on rural physician recruitment, work-life balance was the most frequently cited reason given by physicians when asked why they decided to practice rural medicine. As members of a rural care team, APPs can expect lower patient volumes, flexible schedules, and even job-sharing options, which all contribute to a better lifestyle in most rural healthcare jobs.

Better Compensation and Incentives

In an effort to attract candidates, rural healthcare organizations offer some of the more competitive physician and APP salaries in the market, and they are often accompanied by recruitment incentives to sweeten the offer. Loan repayment may also be available through federal or state programs or subsidized by the organization.

Affordable Cost of Living

In addition to higher salaries in rural jobs, the cost of living in rural areas is significantly lower than in cities and suburbs, so the money earned will go that much further. Consider your affordable housing options in a major metro compared to what you can afford in a rural area – even one just 50 miles outside the city. The difference is often substantial.

Best of Both Worlds

When we talk about rural healthcare jobs, we may be talking about a small primary care clinic in a town of 5,000 people that’s hours from a major metro, but we may also be talking about a multi-specialty group in a town of 40,000 that’s just 60 miles from a major airport. APPs working for the latter organization will have all the benefits mentioned here and relatively easy access to everything the nearby major metro offers. In some scenarios, the APP may live midway between the metro and the clinic, allowing his or her family to go to school and work in the city while the APP commutes to the town. There are many possibilities for what life in rural healthcare can look like that cater to a variety of preferences, so it is important to keep an open mind. 

APPs are an increasingly critical component of rural healthcare staffing, and attractive opportunities abound. Don’t rule out a rural health job without discussing the specifics with a recruiter familiar with the organization and the community. It may turn out to be exactly what you need. 

If you are an APP seeking a new opportunity, the team at Jackson Physician Search would love to learn more about you and your needs. We work with clients nationwide – both urban and rural – that are eager to hire APPs. Reach out today to learn more.

About Tara Osseck

With more than 15 years of experience in the healthcare industry, Tara Osseck specializes in matching healthcare organizations with physicians who are a strong fit for the role and the culture. Her healthcare career began as a physician liaison. It quickly expanded to include physician recruitment, strategic planning, and business development, working for various hospitals throughout Memphis, Tennessee, and St. Louis, Missouri. Based in St. Louis, Osseck leads the firm’s Midwest Division, placing providers across the Midwest and Upper Midwest. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Truman State University and a master’s in health care administration and management from The University of Memphis.


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