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Duluth’s specialty: Educating primary-care physicians

At the Raiter Clinic in Cloquet, Medical School alumna Victoria Heren, M.D., mentors medical student Brock Urie as part of the University’s Rural Physician Associate Program, which is designed to encourage students to practice in rural areas after they

Forty years ago, when rural family physicians were in short supply and the problem was getting worse in Minnesota, state legislators established a two-year medical campus in Duluth that would specialize in educating students committed to practicing in rural communities and who would complete medical school on the Twin Cities campus.

Today 50 percent of University of Minnesota Medical School-Duluth Campus alumni practice in small communities, compared with 4 percent of doctors nationwide.

In 2009, 58 percent of Duluth graduates chose primary-care residencies—family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and medicine/pediatrics. Thirty-four percent selected family medicine—four times the national average.

“Our success starts at admissions,” says Gary Davis, Ph.D., senior associate dean of the Medical School’s Duluth campus. “We especially select students with a demonstrated commitment to rural or Native American communities. We look for students demonstrating leadership and service—major responsibilities for family physicians.”

Davis also credits a nationally recognized curriculum that emphasizes preceptorships and other opportunities for students to work closely with community doctors.

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