Rural doctor prefers country practice, patients

Healthcare in U.S. rural communities is typically unavailable. In truth, of the far more than 7,200 federally selected health experienced lack areas, three out of 5 are in rural parts, in accordance to an AAMC-on-line article.

But that’s not the situation in Hydro, Oklahoma — population 1,020. For additional than 25 yrs, household exercise medical doctor Dr. Brenda Stutzman, DO, has been caring for its citizens at the Hydro Medical Clinic. From the onset of clinical university, her purpose was to return to Hydro in which she spent her summers escalating up on her grandparent’s farm.

“What I intended to do when I went to clinical university (at Oklahoma Point out College- School of Osteopathic Medicine) was to grow to be a spouse and children observe doctor and come back to Hydro. That was my aspiration,” she claims. “The medical professional that was in Hydro prior (Dr. Ralph Buller) had been there for 35 a long time and was all set to retire. He waited for me to end health care college, so I might arrive out and choose around his apply.”

Rural treatment

According to the Countrywide Rural Health Affiliation, loved ones medical professionals comprise only 15{fc1509ea675b3874d16a3203a98b9a1bd8da61315181db431b4a7ea1394b614e} of the U.S. outpatient medical doctor workforce nationwide, but they supply 42{fc1509ea675b3874d16a3203a98b9a1bd8da61315181db431b4a7ea1394b614e} of the treatment in rural spots.

Stutzman claims it truly is really hard to come across people today who want to exercise in rural communities.

“I am 1 of the unusual individuals out there who continue to owns their non-public follow. I possess my company, my making. Most medical professionals graduating from colleges now are utilized by big providers and do the job in massive clinics. They you should not want to go to tiny rural communities since it’s high-priced and they really don’t make as considerably dollars,” she states. “So, it truly is really hard to uncover people today who have a want to stay in a compact community and do compact-town treatment.”

The entire spouse and children

What Stutzman likes most about rural healthcare is “receiving to know the patients and their family members. As a spouse and children practice physician, it can be not just a person man or woman I address. I treat the whole family,” she claims. “It really is important in medicine to know what are the underlying problems and the homelife.”

Stutzman and her partner Karl, dwell nine miles west of Hydro on their family’s century-old farm in close proximity to Weatherford, where by Karl is a row crop farmer and cattle producer. Even though, Stutzman grew up in Yukon where by both equally her parents have been teachers, she states she put in her summertime weekends on her grandfather’s farm.

swfp-shelley-huguley-stutzman-family-22.jpgStutzman household, from still left, Erika, Karl, Brenda and Kayla. (Photograph by Shelley E. Huguley)

“Hydro’s household. I appreciate little communities and the state, so this is exactly where I preferred to settle.”

Interesting transition

Getting a heritage in Hydro created for an “intriguing changeover,” when Stutzman initial took about the apply. “Persons had acknowledged Dr. Buller for 35 a long time, and then here I arrive along. But the fundamental detail on a lot of my patients’ minds was that they realized me when I was born,” she suggests with a chortle.

Stutzman claims she under no circumstances had to “build” her follow. “I experienced a comprehensive follow each and every day.” When she very first started off, she also delivered infants at the Weatherford healthcare facility. “I did that for 15 yrs, but as my ladies (Erika and Kayla) got older, I desired to be with them, likely to their faculty things. And I got exhausted of becoming up all working day and all night, so I considered 15 a long time was sufficient.”


Practising in a rural location arrives with its issues. For case in point, Stutzman cites the absence of community sources. “For illustration, we really don’t have significantly in the way of counseling for psychology and have restricted means for underserved populations.”

In Weatherford, there’s a food means clinic and the Agape Clinic, where medical professionals rotate as a result of after a week and offer you free of charge healthcare treatment. “But compared to the city, there is a lot more resources. There is not a great deal of that out below.”  

Rural methods also deficiency specialists. “We have specialists that appear out after or twice a thirty day period, like cardiology, orthopedics and ENT. But just to have anyone at the fall of a hat every working day, we do not have that.”

The closest specialists are officed about 75 miles absent. For her elderly patients that distance can be hard. “And in our rural communities, what you have the most of is older persons, so that is a obstacle.”


One of the major alterations in rural health care is telemedicine, a company that was greatly made use of during COVID, Stutzman suggests. While, it provided obtain to healthcare when in quarantine and during the stay-at-household order, she says she won’t like it.

“You can not contact the affected person. It can be tough to see anything at all and normally they don’t know what to convey to you. You are unable to even get their crucial indicators to see what’s likely on,” she states. “Some things are good for telemedicine. A consult with for psychiatric drugs for depression is very easily completed. Other challenges are not so simple to address. If you convey to me you have a sore throat or an earache or belly suffering, how am meant to look via a pc and evaluate that and then give you medicine? It really is not good,” she claims.

What is actually valuable is owning a house health and fitness nurse on the other conclusion who can do an assessment and translate the signs or symptoms or issues, Stutzman says. But her preference is an business office stop by.


In rural communities, the individual-to- main treatment medical doctor ratio is 39.8 doctors for each 100,000 men and women, when compared to 53.3 doctors for each 100,000 in city places, in accordance to AAMC.

To pique fascination in rural healthcare, some professional medical educational institutions have made a “rural health care” observe. For example, the College of New Mexico University of Medication offers a Rural and Underserved Populations (RUUP) system. Other health care educational institutions require a rotation in a rural clinic, though many others concentrate on medical students who grew up in a tiny city, furnishing them extra support, in accordance to AAMC.

Stutzman does not argue that rural health care is unique. “It truly is not just a small business,” she suggests. “It is really a way of daily life.”