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MU Rural Track Clerkship Program

The MU Rural Track Clerkship Program offers third-year medical students clinical education in community-based educational centers throughout the state. Students are given the unique opportunity to live and work in one of these communities to gain personal experience regarding the rewards of rural practice. Students may complete up to three core clerkships developed and approved by the School of Medicine's clinical departments. Through this exposure, the program aims to increase the number of physicians who choose to practice in rural Missouri. Rural Scholars are required to complete three clinical rotations at one of the community-based training sites.

Community-based physicians serve as faculty as well as role models, guiding students through the program and serving as mentors for professional as well as personal development. In these busy rural settings, students have an opportunity to care for a large number of patients and often are able to experience considerable continuity of care.

The exposure to practicing rural medicine does not end with the work day since students live in the community. Students often attend community events with their preceptors and engage in the social life of the community. Students also have the opportunity to participate in the Community Integration Program as part of the Rural Track Experience. Housing for students is provided by Area Health Education Centers, in cooperation with local hospitals.

rural track poster presentation Misty Todd

Medical students presented their community integration projects during a poster presentation session April 15. The students completed the projects during their third-year clerkships at various rural track training sites across the state. Whitney Snyders, Misty Todd and Marlena Szewczyk received awards for their posters. 

Watch our video below to learn what participants and preceptors have to say about the program.



What students have to say about the Rural Track Clerkship Program

"An excellent experience for self-driven learners who want to have a more hands-on approach to medical learning."

"I really enjoyed my time on rural track. The teaching was of high quality. I felt that the time spent away from the academic setting was refreshing and gave me a feel for what my future practice could be like."

"Rural Track is about much more than learning medicine; exposure to and interaction with the community are vital to understanding and treating your patients, and getting the most out of your experience."

"Rural Track affords students unparalleled opportunities in medical education and community interaction. It is definitely a great investment in your education and your career, and of course…A lot of fun!"

"An amazing experience! It's real world medicine up close and personal."


While adjustments are made to the rural track experience to reflect the program's goals, the curriculum still addresses the discipline-specific objectives of MU School of Medicine. Each year, the Rural Track Clerkship Program's experience is evaluated to ensure it is equivalent to those of other third-year students based in Columbia.

Keeping in touch with MU

While students participating in the Rural Track Clerkship Program may be miles away from their counterparts in Columbia, they have access to the same educational tools. Through the use of video technology, the students at the community sites visit with the MU AHEC Medical Director once per block to discuss clinical or community issues and share accomplishments. Computer networks connect students to MU's library resources, national databases and clerkship resources. MU AHEC's Rural Health Education Coordinators check in with students on a regular basis to monitor their learning experience.

Application and selection process

During the second year, the application process is explained and information is distributed. Selection for the Rural Track Clerkship Program is based primarily on interest in rural practice, academic performance, and professionalism. Click here for more information on the application process.

Student evaluation

The process for student evaluation is similar to the process used at the School of Medicine and is online. The assignment of grades and credit resides with the School of Medicine and the clinical departments.

Goals of the Rural Track Clerkship Program

  • Explore and discover issues relevant to practicing medicine in a rural community
  • Provide students with core clinical experiences by working with a qualified preceptor
  • Afford students the unique opportunity to live and work in a rural community
  • Provide opportunities for service learning through community integration activities

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