Should I Practice Rural vs. Urban. You Decide!

Most of us have a preference when it comes down to living in a city or a smaller community.
Some love the amenities that come with living in a city of greater than 1 million people, while others wish for nothing more than to live in a town where you know your neighbors and recognize people as you walk down the street. To get a better understanding of this topic, we interviewed physiotherapists who have chosen to build their careers in rural and urban settings. Here’s what we found…
When you\’re deciding whether urban or rural practice is the better option, it all comes down to one question. What suits you best?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. It’s completely personal preference! Every physiotherapist has a different vision for the trajectory of their career and there are positive and negative arguments for each side.
In this article you’ll get an unbiased breakdown of the pros and cons of being a physiotherapist in urban and rural settings. We’ll help you figure out which opportunity may mesh best with the things you value in your life both inside and out of work.

Big City Living: Urban practice

Pros Cons
More job opportunities in a wide variety of practice areas With more hospitals, private clinics, primary care networks, etc., there’s greater competition for jobs
Greater access to continuing education Less opportunity for career growth and ability to gain leadership roles
Easier access to specialized healthcare resources and services Lengthy wait times to gain access to specialized healthcare providers
Easier to network and find mentorship opportunities within physiotherapy You may feel like “one of many”
Greater opportunity to focus and specialize your practice and patient population With more specificity and variety in caseloads, chance of burnout is greater

Countryside Communities: Rural practice

Pros Cons
You will wear many hats with variable practice opportunities and diversity of care you provide May be difficult to specialize in your practice as you must be a “general” expert
Greater opportunities to foster leadership skills, be part of operational decision making, facility planning and service delivery as the clinical teams are smaller Limited job opportunities
Greater access to knowledgeable interprofessional practitioners outside of your discipline Less access to specialized healthcare resources for your patients and yourself
Greater sense of autonomy in your practice Sense of professional isolation, may struggle if you have low confidence
Short commute to and from work Potentially poor access to continuing education with greater travel commitments required in many cases
The feeling of being a part of a tight knit community and being able to get to know your patients, staff and team members outside of the workplace May be acting as a sole charge, lacking colleagues within the same discipline for support

Like we said before, it really all comes down to your career aspirations and what you value above all else.

Consider urban practice seriously if…

  • You’re interested in specializing your practice
  • You thrive when greater structure and protocol are available to guide your practice
  • You value the ability to work in large facilities
  • You want easier access to in-person mentorship
  • You value convenience above all else

On the flip side, consider rural practice if…

  • You’re excited by great variability in your practice and wish to become a “Jack of All Trades”
  • You want more flexibility, opportunity for change and autonomy
  • You need a greater sense of community
  • You value lifestyle above all else

There’s a lot to consider when you’re making big life decisions and I hope we’ve managed to open your eyes to all the possibilities available in both practice settings!

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