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.

James Felts and Shelley Emmett

Rural Scholars are required to complete three clinical rotations at their continuity site or the longitudinal integrated clerkship (site dependent) and a community integration project during the third year of medical school. 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 and Springfield. 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

Rural Scholars 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 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!”

Resources and Tools

Although students participating in the Rural Track Clerkship Program may be miles away from their counterparts in Columbia or Springfield, they have access to the same educational tools. Rural Track 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 Canvas 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.


    • October 12, 2022: Attend the Rural Scholars Training Site Fair from 6-7:30 pm in the PCCLC, LC230
    • October 26, 2022: Rural Scholars Clerkship Informational Meeting from 12 - 1:00 pm on Zoom.
    • November 25, 2022: rural Scholars submit clerkship interest survey
    • November, 2022 - January, 2023: Development of Rural Scholars clerkship schedules
    • February, 2023: Students notified about rotation placements via email prior to one wish deadline
    • February, 2023: One wish deadline

    Training Sites

    Rural Scholars will complete the program at their assigned continuity site. Block clerkship locations include Osage Beach, West Plains, Branson, Cape Girardeau, Farmington, and Sikeston. Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LINC) sites include: St. Joseph, Hannibal, and Sedalia. 

    Training Sites


    Co-ed furnished student housing is available to MU students at no charge due to generous support of the local health systems and the Missouri Area Health Education Centers. Students are responsible for reasonable household necessities while living in the student housing.

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