ABOUT THE PIPELINE

The partnership between the College and the Rural Alabama Health Alliance developed the strategy for an educational pipeline for supplying rural physicians and planned a program for agricultural health and safety. The Rural Health Leaders Pipeline supports the mission of the College, which also functions as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus for the University of Alabama School of Medicine, to contribute to the improvement of health care in Alabama, emphasizing small towns and rural areas. These programs are directed by Dr. John Wheat, professor of Community and Rural Medicine at the College.

The Rural Health Leaders Pipeline identifies, nurtures and assists rural students in entering medical and health care education and in returning to rural Alabama as primary care physicians and health practitioners. The Rural Health Leaders Pipeline is a sequence programs for rural students: outreach to elementary and middle school students and residential summer programs on The University of Alabama campus for eleventh graders (Rural Health Scholars Program), recent high school graduates (Rural Minority Health Scholars Program), as well as the Rural Medical Scholars Program, a five-year medical education program for college seniors and graduates students that begins in the year before entry into medical school. The pipeline serves students in rural areas of every county in Alabama and produces a higher percentage of rural physicians in Alabama than the national average of medical school graduates who choose to practice primary care in rural areas.

RURAL HEALTH SCHOLARS (11th grade)

The Rural Health Scholars Program was founded to encourage high school students to consider careers in medicine and health professions while experiencing college firsthand. Twenty-five rising high school seniors from rural Alabama live on the University of Alabama campus for a five-week summer program. Chosen based on academic achievement and interest in rural health care, these outstanding high school juniors from rural areas take two courses for college credit (English and chemistry), participate in lectures related to rural health careers and take field trips to rural health care facilities and a medical school.

The Rural Minority Health Scholars Program is a five-week summer program for current high school seniors who plan to enter college in the next academic year. The students live at The University of Alabama Campus and take a course with lab, attend tutorials, seminars, field trips to rural medical facilities and shadow African-American physicians. This program was initiated to increase the number of minority students from rural Alabama who qualify for admission to medical school through the Rural Medical Scholars Program.

RURAL MEDICAL SCHOLARS (college seniors/graduates)

The mission of the Rural Medical Scholars Program is to produce physicians for rural Alabama who are leaders in developing healthy communities. Ten qualified students from rural areas are chosen each year to enter the Rural Medical Scholars Program, a highly selective five-year medical education program of The University of Alabama and the University of Alabama School of Medicine (UASOM). If selected, a Rural Medical Scholar is enrolled at The University of Alabama in the year prior to entry into medical school (UASOM), takes coursework each semester related to rural health or the practice of primary care in rural areas, and participates in special seminars, community service projects and field trips that enrich his or her knowledge of what a career in rural medicine entails. Provided the student meets the entrance requirements for admission to UASOM, he or she has a reserved slot in the following year’s class. After two years of study in Birmingham, where UASOM is headquartered, Rural Medical Scholars return to the College of Community Health Sciences, which also functions as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus for UASOM, for their third and fourth years of clinical education.

RURAL COMMUNITY HEALTH SCHOLARS (college seniors/graduates)

More information coming soon…

AGRICULTURAL MEDICINE

Since the early 1990s, the College has worked with the Rural Alabama Health Alliance, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Tuskegee University Cooperative Extension Program to implement an Agromedicine program. Agromedicine combines the knowledge of medical and agricultural sciences to meet rural health needs. Rural Health Leaders Pipeline students learn about agromedicine by visiting farms to observe and discuss health issues in agriculture with extension agents and farmers. Program faculty and students conduct agromedicine research to learn about the health-related issues affecting farmers. With the support of county extension agents, the Agromedicine program’s outreach extends to children in rural areas while Rural Medical Scholars study farm health, and safety continues to be a priority focus.

In May 2015, the Alabama Agromedicine Program hosted a five-day conference for health professionals and others interested in agricultural safety and health.

LEARN MORE

Watch the video below to learn more about the Rural Health Leaders Pipeline, which recently received a national award—the Outstanding Rural Health Program Award from the National Rural Health Association.

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