Improving Rural Health Care Teams

Topic Overview

Maldistribution of the United States physician workforce leaves 60 million rural Americans with diminished access to health care. Rural areas are at greater risk of shortages in both primary and general surgical care over the next decades due to increasing specialization by trainees in both medicine and surgery, by payment disincentives for generalist specialties, and by narrowing scope of practice. Rural areas that have both family physicians and general surgeons often enjoy greater access to broad scope of care, especially if the two specialties are collaborating. There is opportunity for collaborations between general surgery and family medicine to create a new generation of teams that can do more for rural communities than either specialty alone. Currently, there is little overlap of institutions training family physicians and general surgeons, particularly for rural practice. In this Forum, leaders from the American Board of Surgeons and the American Board of Family Medicine will address how to take advantage of this  opportunity for innovation in training and practice. They will be joined by experts in rural family medicine training and in rural hospital administration to share ideas about how to prepare family physicians and general surgeon teams for rural areas—and the policy options for getting there.


Warren Newton, MD

Warren Newton is Chair of the Aerican Board of Family Medicine

Tom Cogbill, MD

Tom Cogbill is Vice Chair of the American Board of Surgery

Ted Epperly, MD

Ted Epperly is former president of the American Academy of Family Physicians

Timothy Putnam, DHA, MBA

Timothy Putnam is CEO of Margaret Mary Community Hospital