From a Small Town, For a Small Town

“We want this Clinic to succeed, because all of us, we’re from here.”

The Director of a Small Town Clinic

You have never met someone that is as passionate about their job or worked as hard as they do at their job until you’ve met someone from a small town that works for the survival of their small town.

I’ve been in several large cities over the last decade, from San Diego, to New Orleans, to Houston to even Memphis, and I’ve seen a variety of jobs, workers and levels of dedication to jobs. But, I have seen very rarely, the dedication and blood, sweat and tears that has gone into fighting for where one is from.

Most of the towns that are needing Locum Tenens work are small. The hospitals and clinics service the town and the surrounding county and everyone knows everybody. Medical staff go to church with their patients, they see their patients at the grocery store and it’s almost impossible to go out to dinner without running into someone you know. Part of that is just privy of being in a small town environment, but the amount of effort they put into their jobs is extraordinary and on average beyond what you see in major cities. People will fight to keep a hospital or clinic open, work more than they need to, and be sure to do everything they can to see it continue to flourish.

I remember the turnover rate of the new nurses at my big teaching hospital as a Resident – it was uncommon to come across anyone that had been there for more than 2-3 years. On the contrary at these smaller hospitals, and to be fair a similar situation I saw at my county training hospital, it is rare to find staff that have NOT been there for at least 10 or 20 years. It is rare to have turnover, it is rare to have workers that come in just to ‘get the work done’ and get out. They come in with passion and pride for their small town and the inhabitants, they are here for more than just the day-to-day work, it is because they truly care. Now, that’s NOT to say that there aren’t people of similar dedication and desire to improve their surroundings and workplace in bigger cities; but they are much fewer and farther between.

At one of the hospitals I’ve been to, a major inpatient unit is closing – it’s a complicated situation that has become a recurrent theme in rural hospitals – resources are hard to come by, long-term workers are hard to keep and there’s not always a lot of growth in the community from new inhabitants. Some small towns are starting to die out as a product of urbanization and the natural aging that comes across communities. I find the trends in population exodus and the evolution of living situations fascinating; but, it leaves in its tracks systems that are becoming slowly more and more obsolete and no fault of its own design. Economy changes and job availability changes in small towns, but everyone that works where they live will fight until their very last breaths to sustain the community and the life within it.

I, as a visitor, view this delicate fortuitous sphere as an Outsider looking in, as if observing The Truman Show. Yet, as a temporary participant, I am tasked with giving as much heart as they do to helping their cause. So, I do, I try my best to assimilate and work hard because I am constantly re-inspired by the lengths people will go to just to make their home town thrive. This is particularly why with every new town I go to, I do as much background research as I can on the people, the places and the soul. However, at the end of the job, as is the definition of my job as a Locum Tenens, I disappear as a ghost, not always intentionally, and I bring part of their soul with me to continue motivating my cause to help small towns such as theirs. They stay behind, fighting to do whatever they can to prosper.

“I was born here, went to high school here, got married here and have worked here all my life. So, I want us to succeed.”

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