Orthopaedic Care in Underserved Areas—What Are We Going to Do? Symposium Presented at the AOA Annual Meeting, June 23, 2016: AOA Critical Issues
The profession of medicine exists to serve society. Nearly 20% of the U.S. population lives in rural areas1. Between 2010 and 2015, nearly 50 rural hospitals closed, and many more are on the brink of closure2. These closures affect access to care for patients living in those areas. Providing quality orthopaedic care to these individuals has become increasingly challenging. Authors have studied a wide variety of ideas about the delivery of care to this population, but no clear consensus has evolved3. Given the training of specialists in orthopaedic surgery with the current model of Graduate Medical Education (GME), the general orthopaedist is in danger of becoming extinct. Current discussions regarding residency training include even earlier subspecialization in the ever-expanding field of orthopaedic surgery. This symposium is meant to start the conversation regarding how best to provide quality orthopaedic care to the nearly 60 million Americans living in rural areas, as well as to discuss what training our residents need and which model of orthopaedic care in rural areas will best serve our profession and fulfill our foundational obligation to society.