As a part of the School of Medicine’s commitment to addressing physician maldistribution in rural Missouri counties, faculty created the Rural Scholars Program to solidify student interest in rural practice. Within the Rural Scholars Program is the Summer Community Program, an exciting opportunity for the MU School of Medicine’s rising second-year medical students to participate in a clinical program in a community setting.

Rural Scholars must participate in the Summer Community Program for six weeks or complete four weeks of the Summer Community Program and the Clinical Rural Immersion Program. During this four- to six-week program, students directly experience the benefits and rewards of rural practice. Students work with approved community-based preceptors and are sponsored by a participating rural hospital.

The goals of the program are to:

  • Improve clinical skills in history taking, physical examination, assessment, and medical management
  • Increase knowledge of rural practice by working with an experienced preceptor
  • Learn about the different specialties commonly available in rural communities
  • Explore common acute and chronic clinical problems
  • Compare medical practice in a community setting to practice in an academic health center

The local hospitals provide room and board if possible, unless the student chooses to stay with a family member living in the community. Students completing a four-week experience receive a $1,400 stipend. For a six-week experience, they receive a $2,100 stipend.

Student Preferences, Application, and Selection Process

Rural Scholars will complete a preference survey each January. If additional placements are available, non-Rural Scholars may apply.

Student Responsibilities

Active participation is required for student success while in the community setting. Students are expected to identify learning issues based on their clinical encounters and to address these learning issues during the course of the experience. 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, physician exams, and other clinical tasks under the supervision of the preceptor. At all times, MU medical students are expected to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with professional standards and norms.

Evaluation and Grading

During the experience, physician preceptors provide students with frequent feedback, incorporating personal observations and comments from patients, office staff, and hospital/clinic personnel. A brief evaluation is completed by the preceptor when the student finishes the experience.

Students who complete the program receive written comments from the preceptors, as well as a letter of recognition. Letters of recognition are kept in the students’ permanent file in Medical Education.