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Nov. 23, 2015

MU School of Medicine Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Rural Track Pipeline Program

Aim is to address shortage of physicians in rural areas

The University of Missouri School of Medicine celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Area Health Education Center Rural Track Pipeline Program on Friday, Nov. 20. The program aims to address the critical shortage of physicians in rural areas by increasing enrollment of rural medical students, offering them hands-on learning experiences and preparing them to return to rural Missouri to practice medicine.

“This program has been a major accomplishment of the MU School of Medicine and demonstrates an effective partnership between an academic institution and rural community partners,” said James Stannard, MD, interim dean of the University of Missouri School of Medicine. “Our rural pipeline students are trained by community-based faculty to be excellent physicians practicing patient- and family-centered care, as well as to be leaders in Missouri’s rural communities to improve the general health of the public.”

The Rural Track Pipeline Program has four curricula and clinical programs including the Bryant Scholars Pre-Admissions Program, which pre-admits eligible rural undergraduate students attending all four-year universities and colleges in Missouri to the medical school. Other pipeline programs include 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. The components are designed to create a self-renewing pipeline that produces rural physicians who then serve as community-based educators for medical students.

“Our program is a key educational initiative that is helping us achieve our school’s overall mission of improving the health of all people, especially Missourians, through exemplary education, research and patient-centered care,” said Kathleen Quinn, PhD, associate dean for rural health.

According to Quinn, 577 students practicing in all specialty areas have gone through the Rural Track Pipeline Program. More than half these students now practice in rural locations, and 80 percent of Bryant Scholars practice in Missouri.

The Rural Track Pipeline Program was created in 1995 by Lester R. Bryant, MD, former dean of the MU School of Medicine; Hal Williamson, MD, MSPH, former vice chancellor for University of Missouri Health System; Weldon Webb, associate dean for Springfield Clinical Campus Implementation; and Michael Hosokowa, EdD, professor of family and community medicine.

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