The MU Rural Track Clerkship Program offers third-year medical students clinical education in community-based training sites throughout the state. Students are given the unique opportunity to live and work in one of these communities to gain personal experience of the rewards of rural practice.
Students may complete up to three core clerkships developed and approved by the School of Medicine’s clinical departments. Bryant Scholars are required to complete three clinical rotations at one of the community-based training sites. Although adjustments are made to the rural track experience to reflect the program’s goals, the curriculum still addresses the discipline-specific objectives of School of Medicine and is equivalent to those of other third-year students based in Columbia. Community-based physicians serve as faculty and role models, guiding students through the program and serving as mentors for professional and personal development. In the busy rural settings, students care for a large number of patients and are able to experience continuity of care.
The goals of the program are to:
- 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
What Students Say
MU Rural Track Pipeline Program participants are more likely to choose a primary care specialty and twice as likely to choose family medicine as their specialty when compared to non-participants. Some of the former MU Rural Track Clerkship Program participants said the following about their experiences:
- “An excellent experience for self-driven learners who want to have a more hands-on approach to medical learning.”
- “The 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.”
- “The 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!”
Application and Selection Process
The application process is explained and information is distributed during the second year of medical school. The program is open to all third-year medical students in good academic standing. Selection for the Rural Track Clerkship Program is based primarily on interest in rural practice.
Resources and Tools
Although 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 Area Health Education Center (AHEC) medical director once per block to discuss clinical or community issues and share accomplishments. MU AHEC’s rural health education coordinators check in with students on a regular basis to monitor their learning experience. Computer networks connect students to MU’s library resources, national databases and clerkship resources. Individual clerkship lectures are recorded and accessible via clerkship Blackboard sites.
Evaluation and Grading
The process for student evaluation is similar to the process used at the School of Medicine. The assignment of grades and credit resides with the School of Medicine and the clinical departments.