Rural Scholars Program FAQs
What is the Rural Scholars Program?
The Rural Scholars Program offers medical school applicants, with a desire and commitment to provide medical services for rural and underserved populations, the focused education that will prepare them for life and practice in a rural community.
How do I apply to participate in the Rural Scholars Program?
You indicate that you are applying for the “Rural Medicine Curriculum” on the "Supplemental Application" page of your medical school application for the University of North Texas Health Science Center/Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine.
What will the admissions process be for a medical school applicant who is applying to participate in the Rural Scholars curriculum?
Your application will initially be processed just as any other applicant. If you are offered an interview, you will have an additional interview scheduled with the Assistant Dean of Rural Medical Education. In addition, you will be asked to complete a shadowing/interview experience off-campus with a private practice physician who is a member of our rural faculty.
What is the "shadowing/interview" experience?
The shadowing experience is an opportunity for you to learn about the functioning of a rural physician's practice by spending time observing the physician and his/her staff. This experience also allows you to consider whether participation in this special curriculum is the right educational choice for you. In addition, your visit gives the rural faculty member a chance to evaluate you as a Rural Scholars applicant.
Can I wait and apply for the Rural Scholars Program after I am accepted to the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine?
No. The Rural Scholars Program has academic requirements that begin before you start your medical school classes and continues throughout the four years of your medical education. All applicants are accepted for this program through the UNT Health Science Center's admissions process.
How does the pre-matriculation shadowing experience, which is referenced in the Rural Scholars Curriculum Overview, differ from the one-day shadowing experience?
The one-day shadowing experience is completed during the admissions process by all medical school applicants who apply to participate in the Rural Scholars Program.
The Pre-matriculation Shadowing Experience is completed by students who have been accepted to TCOM and to the Rural Scholars Program. This experience is the first Rural Scholars curricular activity that the rural scholar completes. It is an evaluated activity with academic requirements for which the student receives Rural Medicine I course credit upon satisfactory completion.
How much time do I spend off-campus for Rural Scholars curricular activities?
During Years 1 and 2, you will complete brief visits of 4 days at your assigned Rural Family Medicine continuity site, and one-day visits to rural hospital emergency departments, or other relevant rural health settings. During Years 3 and 4, clerkship rotations are completed in a variety of rural venues, as well as urban tertiary clinical settings. You can anticipate spending a large percentage of Years 3 and 4 away from the Fort Worth area.
What is the Rural Health Organization?
The Rural Health Organization is a student organization for all Health Science Center students who have an interest in rural health. The goal of this organization is the exchange of ideas and information regarding the intricacies of rural health. An important objective is to provide additional learning opportunities for student members and active involvement in rural community programs. Rural Scholars Program participants are strongly encouraged/expected to join this organization
What is the Community Health Research Project referenced in the Rural Scholars Curriculum Overview?
The Community Project is a longitudinal academic requirement that begins in Year 2 and is completed in Year 4. The purpose of the project is to identify a community-related problem; support the problem by citing current statistical data and literature; formulate a plan addressing the problem; and complete a professional paper or poster. A faculty advisor on-campus, as well as the student's assigned rural family medicine preceptor, will provide guidance for completing this endeavor. The Office of Rural Medical Education advisor will periodically meet with the advisee to review progress and will be the primary evaluator for the project.
What is a preceptorship? What is a clerkship?
A preceptorship is an apprenticeship with a faculty member, who is called a "preceptor." A preceptorship can range from observation to active participation in healthcare. Preceptorships are normally a broad-based exposure to a particular area of medicine. In the Rural Scholars Program, there are preceptorships in Years 1 and 2. These are completed at teaching sites (Family Medicine Continuity site), under the auspices of our rural Family Medicine faculty member.
A clerkship is a focused training rotation in a medical specialty area that is scheduled during Years 3 and 4. These rotations may be scheduled in a variety of clinical settings - ambulatory-based or hospital-based and have specific academic and testing requirements. For example: The TCOM Year 3 curriculum includes rotations in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, Ob/Gyn, surgery, psychiatry, and osteopathic manipulative medicine. Rural Scholars complete these rotations at available rural-based locations.
If I were accepted to participate in the Rural Scholars Program, am I required to select family medicine as my practice specialty?
No, not at all. The intent of this curriculum is to provide a solid foundation of knowledge and skills to any medical student who aspires to serve a rural, or underserved population, regardless of which specialty the student is interested in.
The vision of an initiative, such as the Rural Osteopathic Medical Education of Texas (ROME), is to address the need for physicians in rural and underserved areas of Texas. Primary care specialties, such as family medicine, Ob/Gyn, pediatrics, general internal medicine, and general surgery are critical areas of need. Obviously, these are areas we hope students will eventually consider.
Why am I assigned to a family medicine teaching site and preceptor?
One thread of experience, which runs throughout the Rural Scholars Program, is what formerly constituted the Rural Family Medicine Track. This element has been folded into the Rural Scholars Program as the Family Medicine Continuity Experience. This consists of the: "Rural Practice/Lifestyle Practicum" in Year 1; the "Preclinical Community Preceptorship," in Year 2; the eight-week family medicine clerkship rotation in Year 3, and the primary care partnership and geriatrics rotations in Year 4. Mid-Year 1, Rural Scholars will be assigned to one of the rural Family Medicine teaching sites. This is the community and clinical setting to which Rural Scholars will return, over time, and in which they complete their community project. It provides Rural Scholars with the opportunity to interface in a continuous manner with a rural medical community.