Q: Will my USMLE Step 2 scores or clerkship grades be affected by participating in MU Rural Track Clerkship Program?
A: Data compiled over the past 10 years of the rural track program show that students who participate in rural track clerkship experiences earn similar USMLE Step 2 scores and end-of-block clerkship grades as compared to their on-site counterparts.
Q: Will my letters of recommendation from off-site preceptors prepare me to be competitive for residency applications?
A: Students have repeatedly said their letters of recommendation from off-site faculty are detailed and comprehensive. They attribute this to the fact that students spend a great deal of time with a single preceptor who gets to know them well and, in turn, can write a letter that accurately reflects their true potential.
Q: How do other students manage being away from loved ones for so long?
A: Being away from loved ones is a difficult situation. In our experience, however, the clinical opportunities make up for the time apart. In fact, students have commented that they chose to do only four months because they didn’t want to be away from partners, but in retrospect, they wished they had spent six months off-site. Students can sometimes travel home on weekends to spend time with loved ones and take care of local business.
Q: Are students allowed to request split rotations on the Rural Track Clerkship Program application?
A: Generally, we like to keep rotations together, but in some circumstances, we have arranged rotations in this way. If you choose to make this type of request, clearly explain your reasons on the application. The Rural Track Management Group (RTMG) will consider your reason(s) when they meet to determine placements.
Q: If I am accepted into the Rural Track Clerkship Program, am I required to go out on rotations?
A: Except in rare circumstances, your application for the Rural Track Clerkship Program is acknowledgment that you will participate. A great deal of planning goes in to scheduling rotations, and if a student does not go out on his or her assigned rotation, there is an empty spot that could have been filled by another applicant. The official policy has been included in the student handbook. Do not indicate on your application that you are not willing to commit to your placement.
Q: Will I miss out on opportunities occurring back at MU?
A: Although there will be some things you may miss, students who have gone out later in their third year state that they did not miss as much as they would have expected after experiencing both MU on-site and off-site rotations. MU Area Health Education Center (AHEC) works diligently to ensure comparable educational experiences and equivalent methods of evaluation across all alternative instructional sites. Our data show that, in general, rural track students see more patients and fulfill their patient log requirements sooner than their on-site counterparts.
Clerkships provide recordings of lectures that occur on-site along with other clerkship resources through Blackboard. Students also participate in block chats with the MU AHEC medical director (once per block) using Blackboard Collaborate webinar technology to discuss clinical cases and to share feedback about their rural experiences. When off-site, the town hall meetings and class meetings are recorded by the Office of Medical Education using video conference technology to provide live stream and post-viewing opportunities for off-site students.
Q: Will the hospitals in the training sites provide pagers, or do I bring my own?
A: Each class determines the contract for pagers, and it is best if students bring their own. However, students have borrowed them from the local hospitals if they needed a temporary replacement.
Q: Should I keep my housing at MU during my rural track rotations?
A: Yes. Students will be returning to MU for exams at the end of each block and attending orientations for some of the clerkships on the first day of subsequent blocks. Also, students may want to return on some weekends to visit with family and friends. The student housing while on rural track rotations is provided at no cost to MU students due to the collaboration between MU, the Missouri AHEC and the local health systems hosting students. Students bring bedding, towels, clothes and other personal items, but the housing is fully furnished for student use.
Q: I’m going to Springfield for my third year. Can I participate in the Rural Track Clerkship Program?
A: Yes. All MU School of Medicine students can apply to participate in the program.