American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Rural hospitals benefit by recruiting academic surgeons

OCTOBER 25, 2017
Clinical Congress Daily Highlights, Wednesday First Edition

An innovative program in Texas demonstrates that both rural hospitals and academic medical centers benefit when academic surgeons practice in rural settings.

Today, rural hospitals are at a competitive disadvantage in recruiting surgeons compared with institutions in major population centers; regionalization aggravates the problem by increasing costs and inconveniencing patients who must be transferred for surgical care. Meanwhile, academic departments rely on limited Graduate Medical Education (GME) funding to offset the cost of indigent care and education.

These issues can both be addressed by placing academic surgeons in rural hospitals, reports Saju Joseph, MD, FACS, of Texas Tech University Health Sciences in Odessa, TX. This approach mitigates the effect of GME funding reductions to academic medical centers, while increasing revenue and reducing transfer and locum costs to rural hospitals.

Texas Tech has implemented this model with seven partner hospitals for nine full-time-equivalent (FTE) surgeons. The rural hospital partners have not required locum coverage since the start of the program and have reduced patient transfers by over 70 percent. Additionally, patient satisfaction with local care has increased substantially.

This novel program has reduced rural surgical costs, improved quality of care, and mitigated GME funding reductions by generating increased revenues for academic surgical programs, the authors conclude.

Additional Information:

The Scientific Forum presentation, Financial Model for a Zero Cost Academic Surgical Department in Rural Areas, was held October 25 at the 2017 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons in San Diego, CA.  Program, webcast and audio information is available online at

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