Both large and small hospitals have strengths and advantages -- they're just different
strengths and advantages.
I started my career in a small, rural hospital (long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away
), and it was a great
experience. I got to know nearly everyone at the hospital, there really was a "family" feel to the place (among the staff, I mean), and I was given a much wider range of responsibilities and experiences than I would have been in a larger hospital (where I, as a new grad, would have been "kept on a much shorter leash"
) -- granted, with plenty of support and back-up.
Considering, as you mention, the cost of gasoline (who knows how high it's going to go??) and the additional travel time, I would encourage you to give the smaller, closer hospital a chance -- you might even like it enough to end up wanting to stay there long-term. In healthcare as in everything else, bigger
is not necessarily better