Orientation held for College’s Rural Medical Scholars and Rural Community Health Scholars

October 2, 2017

Members of the incoming 2017-18 classes of Rural Medical Scholars and Rural Community Health Scholars, programs of the College of Community Health Sciences, attended an orientation August 22 at Moundville Archeological Park in Moundville, AL. Eleven students are Rural Medical Scholars and nine are Rural Community Health Scholars. The orientation included program expectations, faculty and staff introductions and allowed students to get to know each other and faculty they will work with. “Your being here is important for the state and the region,” said Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of CCHS, which also serves as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus of the University of Alabama School of Medicine. “There are groups in society that don’t have access to health care. A lot of it is our need to address workforce needs, and that’s why you’re here.” The Rural Medical Scholars and Rural Community Health Scholars programs are part of the College’s efforts to address the shortage of primary care physicians in Alabama, particularly in rural Alabama. The Rural Medical Scholars Program is for rural Alabama students who want to become physicians and practice in rural communities. The program includes a year of study, after students receive their undergraduate degree, and leads to a master’s degree in rural community health and early admission to the University of Alabama School of Medicine. Rural Community Health Scholars are graduate students not enrolled in the Rural Medical Scholars Program who are interested in health-care careers. The program prepares them for leadership roles in community health in rural areas. Graduates of the program have entered the fields of public health, health administration, nursing and physical therapy. Also attending the orientation was Dr. Kevin Leon, associate dean for undergraduate medical education at the University of Alabama School of Medicine. Rural Medical Scholars spend the first two years of medical school at the School of Medicine’s main campus in Birmingham and then return to CCHS for their final two years of clinical education. “Rural areas and health disparities are not unique to Alabama, but we are one of very few schools that dedicates ourselves to rural care,” Leon said. “It’s in our mission statement.” In addition to Leon, other guest speakers at the orientation included Maija Braaten and Jill Sharp from the UAB Office of Student Success, as well as fellows from Dr. John Dorsey’s Project Horseshoe Farm in Greensboro, AL. Rural Medical Scholars: Rural Community Health Scholars: