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Medical School Program Sparks Rural Residencies

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, November 9, 2011

The Rural Track Pipeline consists of several components, including medical school preadmissions for undergraduate college students who have a rural background and an interest in becoming a physician in a rural area.

According to the study 90% of preadmissions students are now physicians in Missouri. The rest of the pipeline includes a summer community program for second-year medical students; a six-month rural track clerkship for third-year medical students; and a rural track elective program for fourth-year medical students.

According to Quinn, the study finds that providing these multiple rural clinical experiences is associated with higher rates of students entering family medicine, which is important because that's the most common specialty in rural practice.

"If you just have one experience during your third year you're going to be less likely to enter family medicine in rural areas," she says. "We offer them so many opportunities."

Although the study contained few real surprises for Quinn, she says she hopes the paper can boost local and national focus on training rural physicians, especially since the Affordable Care Act will increase the number of people with health insurance. One goal is for other medical schools to replicate their program

"If there were 10 more students in each class in each medical school nationwide, we would double the amount of rural physicians," she says.

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