"It was the best of times; it was the worst of times."

That quote, from Charles Dickens' historical novel "A Tale of Two Cities," is perhaps the perfect way to describe what it's like to work in a rural ICU.

Dr. David Grace, Senior Vice President and Group Medical Officer, SCP Health, agrees.

"A hospitalist working in a rural intensive care unit will see the best of times and worst of times," he said in an interview. "Intensivists are not really a role in rural ICUs, so hospitalists are usually the ones providing critical care. It's important that they know how to cope with the worst and make the most out of the best."

The Best of Times

Dr. Grace pointed out that a hospitalist working in rural medicine has the opportunity to single-handedly save the life of a critically ill patient, often with little or no support.

"In so much of our careers, we're part of a much larger team," he said. "But in rural ICUs, you may be a team of one. There may be no other physician in or near the...