Understanding Rural Healthcare in America: A General Survey of Rural Healthcare Systems

By Macy Justice

Faculty Mentor: Professor Tracy Citeroni

With the recent election and the current global pandemic, health care has been on the forefront of almost every political conversation in America. With discussions growing around populations and communities that face gaps in health care access, it is important to understand the barriers and gaps in rural health care systems. Nearly 20% of Americans live in rural areas, and rural communities face unique challenges to accessing healthcare systems compared to their urban counterparts. Understanding these unique challenges will allow for policies and initiatives targeted at rural communities to be more efficient and more effective. This presentation will perform a general survey of the rural healthcare system in America, analyzing how the word ‘rural’ is used and what barriers rural residents face in their attempts to access healthcare systems, in hopes that the audience will better be to understand and represent the challenges faced by rural healthcare systems and rural residents. To apply the findings from the survey of rural healthcare systems, a case study of McDowell County, West Virginia will take place, highlighting trends and barriers that all rural communities face in some way.