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photo Country Doctors, Rural Medicine
By Eric Cain
Oregon Public Broadcasting

Today's country doctors may speak with a drawl, dress in jeans, and drive a pickup, but they are likely to be well trained and highly skilled, and to practice the kind of whole-person care that's rarely seen these days in urban medical centers. Yet health care in the rural areas of America is in trouble. Doctors and dentists are in critically short supply and in many places the gap is being filled by 'mid-level' caregivers such as nurse-practitioners, midwives, physician's assistants and other providers.

Filmed in eastern Oregon, this documentary highlights problems that are endemic to rural areas throughout the United States. With populations growing older and poorer, these communities are especially hard hit by the problems facing our national healthcare system. Patients are isolated and often have to travel long distances to services. Response times for ambulance services are measured in hours, not minutes. Rural patients may have a tendency to be stoic and self-reliant, downplaying symptoms and avoiding preventive care, and may therefore be sicker when they first come for care. There are high rates of alcoholism, smoking and obesity, as well as their consequences, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Rural providers tend to get paid less and probably can't afford the latest, most technologically sophisticated equipment. There may be fewer job and educational opportunities for spouses and children. Yet there can be many rewards for professionals who choose the slower paced lifestyle and more intimate family and community connections possible in a small town. A celebration of the people and practice of rural medicine, this program's ultimate message is one of hope for the continued health of our smaller communities.

56 minutes
© 2003
Purchase $229 DVD
Order No. QA-409
ISBN (DVD) 1-57295-847-2
close captioned

"This superb new documentary covers all aspects of the incipient crisis in rural health care. This film can't be recommended highly enough. It is applicable to a large number of rural states that are facing the same health problems. It would be useful in nursing, and health science programs as well as medical schools." Educational Media Reviews Online

"Alternately quaint and alarming, this fascinating documentary about the joys and challenges of contemporary medicine in ranching, farming and logging communities is full of colorful anecdotes as well as warnings about the mounting pressures on doctors and patients. Recommended." Video Librarian

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To rent or purchase this film, please visit the Icarus Films website