Key Rural Curriculum Strategy 2:
Longitudinal Experiences with Rural Patients and Rural
Early immersion in rural health care leads to a deeper understanding of the meaningful long-term relationships that rural patients, physicians and communities develop over time. From the first semester of medical school, students in the rural medicine track will have the opportunity:
· To participate in a preceptorship program with rural physicians
· To develop long-term professional relationships with rural patients
· To gain insight into the social and cultural aspects of rural health care.
Medical students choosing the rural track must learn to view Medicine through the eyes of rural health care practitioners. The students will be assigned to a rural physician and will accompany her/him weekly in her/his rural practice at the office, the clinic, the nursing home, etc…This long-term involvement in a rural medical practice will be extended into a longer clerkship during the clinical years and will be reinforced by an early appreciation of the rural patients’ point of view.
Because many of the prevalent diseases in modern society are chronic, it is important for rural healthcare providers to understand the impact of rural living on the long-term health management. Students will establish a professional relationship with assigned “longitudinal patients” from a rural community and participate during medical decision-making sessions with the patient and her/his caregivers. Long-term involvement with the patient will contribute to understanding the course of the illness, its longitudinal management, and the rural patient’s point of view. The longitudinal patient-centered curriculum will support students’ early development of relationship-building skills, provide hands-on practice for clinical skills, and actively expose them to the management of common medical problems.
Throughout the four years of medical school, the students will put their increasing knowledge of rural patients and their communities to use by working with a community partner to learn to identify and then to address specific rural health issues.