April 1, 2016The Rural Medical Scholars Program at the College of Community Health Sciences will honor the graduates of its 20th class, as well as alumni of the now two-decade-old program, on May 1 at Hotel Capstone on The University of Alabama campus. A reception for program alumni will be held at 3 pm and will be followed by the 20th Annual Rural Scholars Convocation, where both the current class and past classes of the Rural Medical Scholars and Rural Community Health Scholars will be recognized. Approximately 200 rural Alabama students have entered the College’s Rural Medical Scholars Program since its founding in 1996, and many graduates have chosen primary care fields. The majority of the program’s graduates practice in Alabama, and more than half of those practice in rural communities. The Rural Medical Scholars Program is the culmination of the Rural Health Leaders Pipeline, a series of nationally-recognized programs that recruit rural students to prepare for health and medical careers in rural Alabama and provide them with opportunities for rural training experiences so that ultimately, they will return to their home towns or other rural parts of the state to practice. “‘Growing our own’ is a tenet of the Rural Medical Scholars Program and other Rural Scholars Programs at The University of Alabama and is based on research that shows that rural students are more likely to choose to live and practice in rural areas,” says Dr. John Wheat, founder and director of the Rural Medical Scholars Program. The Pipeline was recognized as the 2013 Outstanding Rural Health Program by the National Rural Health Association.