Our Program Today
The ROME Rural Scholars Program is an innovative educational program designed to prepare students for life and practice in a rural community. This rural medicine curriculum includes academic activities and clinical experiences beginning before matriculation and continuing throughout all four years of undergraduate medical education.
Students accepted into the Rural Scholars Program, in addition to completing all regular curriculum courses during years 1 and 2, will take an additional 35 contact hours per semester in rural medicine courses. These courses emphasize the acquisition of knowledge and skills for a career in rural medicine. Throughout this Program, students work with faculty preceptors from rural communities across the state of Texas as well as urban tertiary centers. This program provides students with a real world experience of living and working in rural Texas.
History of the ROME Program
The Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine at the University of North Texas Health Science Center has a history of graduating medical students who enter primary care practice. Our record is solid, with approximately 30% of TCOM graduates choosing to practice in smaller Texas communities.
In 1996, the Department of Family Medicine began implementing an articulated Rural Family Medicine Track program. This community-based curriculum introduced student doctors to the practice of family medicine in a rural environment. During its 14 year history, over 100 students completed the Rural Track, many of whom have chosen primary care residencies and rural practices.
The success of the Rural Track program provided the foundation for development of an enhanced curriculum in rural medicine – Rural Osteopathic Medical Education of Texas (ROME). This curriculum extends the original emphasis of rural family medicine to a full rural medicine curriculum designed to prepare graduates for practice in a rural environment. This introduction to the foundations of rural medicine and skills training translates to a high level of competency early in medical education.
The Division of Rural Medicine was created to develop and implement this expanded rural initiative. Implementation began in 2006, and the first cohort of ROME students graduated in May 2010.
In 2010 the Division of Rural Medicine became the Office of Rural Medical Education for the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. With this change, new programs are under development. The “ROME curriculum” as it has been known since 2006 will now be called the Rural Scholars Program. This curriculum and other rural initiatives continue to evolve (see home page for list of ROME programs) through collaborative relationships with healthcare professionals, rural hospitals, clinics and agencies all across the state.