As the state's leading educator of physicians practicing in Missouri, the MU School of Medicine is in a key position to improve the supply and distribution of physicians in rural Missouri.

The Rural Scholars Program is designed to offer medical students interested in rural practice a variety of experiences including lectures, mentoring and clinical programs centered around rural care. Students interested in the Rural Scholars Program will apply their first year of medical school.

We are not currently taking applications.

Student Benefits

Rural Missouri Experience

  • Exposure to the rewards and challenges relevant to working and living in a rural community
  • Discovery of the rural health disparities and quality of life concerns within a specific region of Missouri
  • Development of an ongoing relationship with leadership at major hospitals and/or health systems in rural Missouri
  • Ability to explore potential future practice locations Clinical Experience
  • Participation in a unique early clinical experience after the first year of medical school to enhance understanding of rural medicine and practice history taking and physical exam skills
  • Exclusive opportunity to participate in high-volume, high-value rural educational experiences across all four years of medical school through the Rural Track Pipeline Program
  • Completion of 3-4 core clerkships during third year in a rural community while working one-on-one with MU appointed community-based faculty, or participate in the longitudinal integrated clerkship (LINC)
  • Participation in community-based research through the development of a community integration project
  • Completion of one 4-week elective in a rural community developing a deeper understanding of rural practice and assisting in solidifying specialty selection

Lasting Benefits

  • Preparation for rural practice through ongoing clinical exposure
  • Development of strong, supportive relationships with a cohort of rural interested students
  • Personal mentoring from a rural community-based faculty member
  • Ongoing exposure to topics in rural health through participation in the annual rural lecture series
  • Receipt of a program completion scholarship during the fourth year of medical school
  • Personalized assistance and support from Rural Track Pipeline Program faculty and staff
  • Opportunity to receive potential scholarships from participating hospitals and/or health systems

Application and Selection Process

The application process is explained, and information is distributed during orientation in the first year of medical school. The program is open to all first-year medical students. Selection for the Rural Scholars Program is based primarily on interest in serving underserved populations, learning about rural health disparities in Missouri, and potential rural practice. Up to 25 students can be selected to participate in the program each year.

If you have application questions, please email

Student Expectations

Students are committed to:

  • Attend 6 evening rural lectures across the first and second year of medical school
  • Establish a mentor relationship with a designated rural faculty member during the first year of medical school
  • Meet at least twice per academic year with their designated mentor across all four years of medical school
  • Participate in the Summer Community Program for 6 weeks or complete 4 weeks of the Summer Community Program and the Rural Immersion Program after the first year of medical school
  • Complete 3 core Rural Track clerkships or the longitudinal integrated clerkship (site dependent), and a community integration project during the third year of medical school
  • Complete 1 Rural Track elective during the fourth year of medical school

Rural Lecture Series

Annual lecture series focused on relevant rural health topics. Experts in rural medicine speak on a variety of topics, including models of addressing behavioral and women’s health in rural areas, rural leadership and community engagement, the use of telemedicine in rural areas, the opioid epidemic in rural Missouri, and many more.

Rural Physician Mentoring

Students accepted into the Rural Scholars Program have a unique opportunity to be matched with a rural physician mentor from their continuity community/region. This mentoring relationship will provide students a resource to discuss numerous topics including professional development, specialty choice, career planning/guidance, rural population health and health disparities, and common acute and chronic clinical problems in rural communities from an experienced rural physician.

Continuity Region

Rural Scholars will be assigned to a region and training site where they will complete all clinical training programs. Rural Scholars will develop a more in-depth connection with and understanding of the culture, health disparities, and health-care resources in the region.

There are five continuity regions: Mid-Missouri, Northeast Missouri, Northwest Missouri, Southeast Missouri, and Southwest Missouri. Each region has one or more training site(s).

Mid-Missouri third-year training sites

Northeast Missouri third-year training site

Northwest Missouri third-year training site

Southeast Missouri third-year training sites

Southwest Missouri third-year training sites

Summer Community Program

Students work with one or more community-based physicians in a primary care setting and experience the benefits and rewards of rural practice. Students perform appropriately focused medical histories, physical exams, and other clinical tasks under the supervision of the physician.

Learn more

Clinical Rural Immersion Program

Hosted in communities throughout the state, the Clinical Rural Immersion Program is a two-week interprofessional experience for rising second-year Rural Scholars and other health professions students. The program is a clinical experience designed to highlight the social and communal aspects of rural life. Through group activities and meetings with community leaders and rural health professionals, participants get a preview of life as a rural health-care professional.

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MU Rural Track Clerkship Program

Students are given the unique opportunity to live and work in a rural community to gain personal experience of the rewards of rural practice. 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.

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Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LINC)

The Rural Track Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LINC) includes medical students participating in patient care over time, allowing enduring learning relationships to develop with patients and physician-teachers. Students will meet required core clinical competencies in multiple disciplines through longitudinal experiences over the course of the clinical training year. In contrast to a block curriculum, students meet and follow their patients across multiple settings of care and different disciplines.

Community Integration Project

Students research community health needs in a region of the state and develop and evaluate a community research project to address the identified needs. An academic poster and paper are submitted to reflect on the project.

Rural Track Elective Program

The Rural Track Elective Program provides students with an additional rural clinical experience during their final year of medical school, which helps the students explore and solidify their commitment to practicing rural medicine.

Learn more