Broader Scope of Practice Among Rural Family Physicians vs Urban Family Physicians

Submitted on Thu, 03/01/2018 - 08:40

A recent study conducted by researchers from the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) indicates rural family physicians have a broader scope of practice than urban family physicians.

Using data from 18,846 family physicians, the study examined variations in the provision of 21 clinical services and 18 procedural services across metropolitan, large rural, small rural, and frontier areas. The percentage of family physicians providing each type of clinical and procedural service rose with increasing rurality. Rural family physicians were more likely to provide obstetrical deliveries, newborn care, pediatric care, occupational medicine, palliative care, and mental health care than urban family physicians. They were also more likely to see patients in the hospital and nursing home and to conduct home visits.

Despite prior research that the scope of practice of family physicians has been shrinking, the study found that rural family physicians are maintaining a broad scope of practice, which is likely necessary in rural areas where there are fewer options to access more specialized medical services.

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Correspondence and inquiries should be addressed to: Lars E. Peterson, MD, PhD, American Board of Family Medicine