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Paving the path to rural health

Exposing medical students to rural clinical experiences early in their training has been a mainstay of the Medical School’s Duluth campus since it opened in 1972. Now the campus is expanding those experiences by introducing a new Rural Family Medicine, Native American, and Minority Medical Scholars Program (RMSP). The goal remains the same: training more new doctors who are committed to rural practice.

RMSP will integrate the basic and clinical sciences, longitudinal learning, patient care opportunities, and community service by offering students more chances to work in their preceptor’s clinic, a hospital, nursing home, and the community. And they will work closely with their preceptor to connect the clinical experiences with their coursework. Each student also will complete a community assessment and project and a poster with presentation.

“RMSP will improve the way we deliver experiential learning, and it will demand more of our students in the field,” says Raymond G. Christensen, M.D., assistant dean for rural health at the Medical School, Duluth campus. “We also will need more help from health systems, communities, and physicians throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin to participate and invite our medical students to learn more about rural health care in their facilities and communities.”

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

By Michelle Juntunen

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