UA implements program for students studying rural health care

School Of Medicine University Of Alabama

By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Kyrsten Eller

The University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences welcomed the 2021-22 class of its Rural Medical Scholars and Rural Community Health Scholars programs. These programs were implemented for students following any general health career in rural communities.

The Rural Medical Scholars program was founded in 1996 and has since placed 78 physicians into practice in rural Alabama areas.

The program includes one year of study, where students will receive their undergraduate degrees. This will then lead to a master’s degree in rural community health and early admission to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine, where students will spend their first two years of medical school.

Students will then return back to CCHS for their remaining third and fourth years of medical school.

According to Dr. Richard Friend, dean of CCHS, it’s a very selective and necessary medical education program of UA.

“Alabama is a disproportionately rural state and medical education programs that develop rural physicians and other health care professionals are vital,” said Dr. Friend.

The Rural Community Health Scholars Program is for rural Alabama graduate students not enrolled in the Rural Medical Scholars Program and who are interested in broad health care careers.

Students will take graduate-level courses, participate in farm field trips, shadow rural physicians, assist with health fairs and screenings or other community service projects and attend lectures and workshops focused on rural health topics.

Scholars are also able to participate in peer support group activities and gain mentoring from rural health practitioners.

Graduates in this specific program who earn a master’s degree in rural community health have entered general fields of health. These fields include nursing, physical therapy, public health and health care administration.

Both of these programs are put in place by the college to address and overcome the shortage of primary care physicians in Alabama, specifically those in rural communities.

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