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of this type can be very helpful
and in some cases critical to
stabilize rural surgery practices.
Our experiences have
identified some key components
of the program that have resulted
in benefits to rural surgery (see
Table 3, this page). In areas with
competing health systems, the
neutrality of the sponsoring
organization can be critical, as
institutions are often leery of
working with a program from
a competing institution. Our
community-based medical school
serves well in this function
because it does not have a
hospital and works with all
hospitals in the state to educate
our physicians for the future.
The ability to have coverage
provided by a surgeon who is
known, licensed, and credentialed
in the state has also been very
valuable. The perception of
that surgeon as someone who
wants to help and preserve
rural surgery practices and is
available for post-assignment
follow-up conversations has also
been well received. In its first
year of operation, the RSSP has
scheduled assignments that will
occupy almost the entire next
year for Dr. Aaland, and we are
now considering hiring another
surgeon to meet the needs of
the participating institutions.
In summary, the RSSP
has been well received by
rural hospitals that have been
affected by the many challenges
associated with maintaining
rural surgical services. We
anticipate that the program
will continue to provide needed
coverage and other services to
help rural hospitals stabilize
and maintain their surgical
capabilities in North Dakota. ♦
DISPATCHES FROM RURAL SURGEONS
KEY COMPONENTS AND ADVANTAGES OF THE RSSP
KEY COMPONENTS ADVANTAGES
recognized and credentialed
at participating institutions
Mutual familiarity between institution and
covering surgeon, improved continuity of care
Neutrality of sponsoring
Elimination of concerns about competition
between institutions or health systems
Cost Significant savings for participating institutions
Availability In-state availability of a surgeon familiar with patients and hospital systems
The covering surgeon’s credentials are
obtained and maintained by administrative
support, eliminating tedious and costly
credentialing process for each assignment
Recruitment advantages for single-surgeon
hospitals that are able to guarantee a specific
number of weeks off for recruited surgeons