ROME Rural Scholars Program

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The Rural Scholars Program is an innovative four year medical school curriculum designed to better prepare the graduate for rural practice. This curriculum consists of academic activities and clinical experiences beginning before matriculation and continuing through all four years of pre-doctoral medical education. This curriculum is completed in addition to the courses in the regular medical school curriculum. The following is a brief overview of this program.

Accepted students begin their Rural Scholars Curriculum with a one-day shadowing and observation experience at a rural clinical teaching site. This occurs before medical school begins.


Rural Medicine Didactic Courses I-IV
The Rural Medicine I-IV courses are completed in addition to the regular medical school curriculum during semesters 1-4 of years one and two. They are designed to introduce the student to issues of public health, rural health policy, telemedicine, pathophysiology, and specific clinical problems and procedures relevant to rural medicine that present unique diagnostic and management issues.  Each session correlates with the study of a specific systems course. Each course is comprised of a variety of activities that may include classroom learning sessions, rural clinical correlations, rural topic presentations, skills lab, and clinical experiences. Emphasis is placed on special patient populations found in rural communities, cancer detection and prevention, and rural environmental health risks. Below are examples of topics and experiences offered in the Rural Scholars Program.


  • Rural America and Community Health in Texas
  • Understanding Sterile Technique and Universal Precautions
  • Navigating the Rural Information Highway
  • Cultural Competency in the Practice of Rural Medicine
  • Introduction to Compassionate Interviewing
  • Skin Disorders Common to the Rural Environment
  • Professionalism-Rural Competencies
  • Emergency Medical System in a Rural Community
  • Principles and Practice of Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Introduction of Evidence-Based Medicine Databases
  • What Do We Know About Cancer in Our Rural Communities
  • Neurotoxic Injuries
  • Smoking Cessation for Rural Patients
  • Lung Cancer in the rural patient
  • Colorectal Cancer in the Rural Patient
  • Cervical Cancer in the Rural Patient
  • Procedural Competency:
  • Joint Injection, Suturing, EKG, Venapuncture, IV, Injections, Suturing, Gynecological Exam, Male Catherization, and Cardiac Auscultation
  • Rural Hospital Emergency Department Observation (Clinical Activity)


  • Advanced skills for obtaining an appropriate medical history
  • Understanding the needs of Special Patient Populations in Rural Texas
  • Cultural Competency in the Practice of Rural Medicine
  • Nutritional concepts in renal disease
  • Dialysis Center Observation
  • Occupational Medicine in Rural Texas-Rural Community Field Trip
  • Rural Lifestyle/Practice Visit (Clinical Activity)
  • Rural Health Policy
  • Roles of the Rural Physician in the community
  • Basic Business Principles for the Rural Physician
  • Mental Health Service in Rural Texas
  • Domestic Violence
  • Procedural Competency:Central Line Placement, Chest Tube insertion, Intubation, Tracheotomy, Spirometry, Thoracentesis, Nasogastric Tube Placement, Paracentesis, and advanced cardiac auscultation, Colposcopy, Wet Mount, Lumbar Puncture, Joint Injections, Suturing, and Telemedicine Consults

Student’s knowledge and level of competency acquired from each course will be assessed through assignments, quizzes, written exams and an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).

Each student is matched with a rural adjunct faculty member during the first year of medical school with whom he/she will complete specific activities throughout the four years of medical school.  The Family Medicine Continuity Experience allows the Rural Scholar to experience the benefits of continuity and interaction with a rural family medicine practice and community over time. Specific activities designed to introduce the student to community life, health systems, and rural cultures are built in to this experience. Students are expected to become involved in the community during the time he/she is there.

Description Length Timing
1. Rural Practice & Lifestyle Practicum 4 days Summer after Year 1
2. Rural Pre-Clinical Preceptorship 4 days Year 2
3. Family Medicine Clerkship 8 weeks Year 3
4. Rural Primary Care Partnership 4 weeks Year 4
5. Geriatrics 4 weeks Year 4

1.  Rural Practice & Lifestyle Practicum:  A four-day experience that introduces the student to a family practice and the lifestyle of a physician in a rural community.

2.  Rural Pre-Clinical Preceptorship:  A four-day clinical experience that enhances the student’s understanding of the role of comprehensive, continuing family-oriented primary medical care in a rural setting.

3.  Family Medicine Clerkship:  An eight-week Year 3 core clerkship in Family Medicine that focuses on cognitive and behavioral skill building

4.  Rural Primary Care Partnership:  A four-week clinical experience completed in Year 4 that focuses on delivery of primary care health care in a rural clinical setting.

5.  Geriatrics:  A four-week clinical experience in Year 4 that focuses on the delivery of geriatric care in a rural clinical setting.

Each student will complete a community project related to their assigned “family medicine continuity” community.  The purpose of the community project is to provide the student experience in “community responsiveness” and leadership through the identification and development of a plan (course of action) to address a relevant health concern in the community.  This project will be initiated during Year 2 and due for completion and academic credit in Year 4.

The Year 3 core clinical clerkships for the Rural Scholars Program are designed to provide focused training which will prepare the student for the practice of medicine in a rural setting.  Rotation sites will include tertiary urban centers and rural clinical sites to facilitate the best training possible. Students will complete a minimum of 50% of their core clinical rotations (in addition to Family Medicine) outside the DFW Metroplex at rural-based training sites, if available.

NOTE: The length, distribution, and sequencing of Year 3 and 4 clerkships are subject to change.

YEAR 3 – 48 weeks

  • 8 weeks - Family Medicine (Family Medicine Continuity Experience)
  • 8 weeks - Internal Medicine (Ambulatory and Hospital)
  • 8 weeks - General Surgery
  • 6 weeks - Pediatrics (Ambulatory and Hospital)
  • 6 weeks - Ob/Gyn
  • 4 weeks - Psychiatry
  • 4 weeks - Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine
  • 4 weeks - Year 3 Elective

The final year of the Rural Scholars Program consists of required and elective clinical rotations that will provide the student with experiences especially relevant to the practice of medicine in a rural setting. Rotation sites will include tertiary urban centers and rural clinical sites to facilitate the best training possible.

YEAR 4 - 40 weeks

  • 8 weeks – Primary Care Partnership/Geriatrics (Family Medicine Continuity Experience)
  • 4 weeks – Emergency Medicine
  • 4 weeks – Cardiology
  • 4 weeks – Subspecialty – Critical Care, Infectious Disease or a variety of others
  • Electives – Public Health, Sports Medicine, Neurology, Dermatology, etc.
  • Electives – Study Month/Vacation Month
This page last updated 02nd May 2013