President’s Perspective: Michigan’s Rural Health Care Challenges

S. Bobby Mukkamala, MD

MSMS President

This month, the Michigan State Medical Society is taking a look at the distinctive challenges facing our state’s rural health care settings. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted these communities in extraordinary ways that are likely to be felt for years to come.

With much of the Michigan medical community concentrated in the lower half of the lower peninsula, it can be easy to forget that nearly 70 percent of our state’s counties are rural. Effectively caring for patients in regions where distance, resources, and talent are huge factors means care delivery takes on a different form.

Fortunately, there are resources available to help address the challenges associated with rural medicine. Moreover, there are unique opportunities for practitioners to innovate and explore new approaches to their work. In this issue, we’ll introduce you to just a few of the trailblazing leaders and organizations that are working to make a difference. We’ll also examine the unique professional and personal assets that can help rural physicians be successful in their practices.

And finally, we’ll shine an important spotlight on some of the emerging issues and trends that have come about as a result of COVID-19. A sudden resurgence of physician interest in leaving the city. A new focus on telehealth. A renewed emphasis on ensuring an affordable, high-quality digital infrastructure in every corner of the state. All these trends can be directly traced to the pandemic—and the impact on rural medicine will be felt for many years to come.

Very quietly, across Michigan, rural providers are making an enormous difference. Their leadership is extraordinary, their innovations remarkable. This month—and, indeed, every day of the year—we are honored to celebrate their work and achievements.

It has been an honor to serve as President of MSMS during this very unique year. I am as proud as ever to be a physician in our great state after witnessing how we have risen to meet challenges and continue to take care of our patients. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity.


S. “Bobby” Mukkamala, MSMS President