Rural Health Training Programs Spreading

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media , December 28, 2011

But even beyond teaching healthcare providers about rural patients' specific health needs, research shows that developing physicians at home seems to help keep them at home. The University of Missouri School of Medicine recently completed a study of its almost 17-year-old Rural Track Pipeline program, which prepares college and medical students for practicing medicine in rural areas.

It found that 65% percent of students who participated in the program practice in Missouri, and 43% practice in rural areas of the state. In and outside of Missouri, more than 57% of participating students practice in rural areas. That's a stark difference from the 10% national average.

In addition to the Rural South Public Health Training Center, there are several other new rural health tracks throughout the country. Students in the rural program at the Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Parker, Colo., work in rural medical practices and EDs, and get training in subjects that apply to rural medicine in Colorado, such as treating altitude sickness and aiding search-and-rescue operations, according to the AMA's American Medical News. The school's Rural/Wilderness Medicine track even offers clinical rotations in wilderness settings.

In July, the University of Kansas School of Medicine opened a new campus in Salina, Kansas, aimed at students with a strong desire to practice in rural areas. The inaugural class comprised eight students, which the school says makes it the smallest four-year medical-education site in the country. Those students will receive some training with medical students on the Kansas City and Wichita campuses via interactive televideo and podcasts, as well as training in the offices of rural physicians and at the Salina Regional Health Center.

And just this week, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard proposed an additional $1 million for the state's medical school budget to help establish a rural track at the Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota, reports the Argus Leader.


Alexandra Wilson Pecci is a managing editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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