A National Survey of Hand Surgeons: Understanding the Rural Landscape

Joseph Meyerson, Andrew Liechty, Tyler Shields, David Netscher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Twenty percent of the US population is described as being rural and may have limited access to hand surgeons, especially on an emergency basis. Little is known about case type, call hours, employment status, and other relevant details of rural hand surgery.

METHODS: We surveyed members of the American Society of Surgery for the Hand to begin to describe the problem.

RESULTS: There were 471 responses from 2256 members surveyed with 387 completing 100% of questions asked. Ninety (19%) identified themselves as primarily located in a rural population and 381 (81%) in a metropolitan region. In our study, rural hand surgeons were more likely to be employed by a community hospital, followed by independent private practice, multispecialty group, academics, and then locum tenens. Rural surgeons' practices were 80% solely hand surgery, while metropolitan surgeons' practices were 89% ( P < .01). Metropolitan surgeons felt that of the transfers from rural facilities, 46% did not need emergency hand care and that 60% of the time, there was not actually a need for specialty hand surgery care.

CONCLUSIONS: Our survey begins to shed light on the details of rural hand surgery practice. We found that rural surgeons are more likely to be employed in community hospitals and take more call. When available, hand surgery specialists could prevent unnecessary transfer of patients to metropolitan areas. More work needs to be done to describe the differences between rural and metropolitan hand surgery practices as well as create rural hand surgeons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)686-691
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • hand surgery
  • hand trauma
  • inequality
  • metropolitan
  • rural
  • spectrum
  • telemedicine
  • type of care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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