The Rural Primary Care Practice and Research Program is a University of Kansas Medical Center Department of Family Medicine sponsored elective rotation for medical students. It involves active clinical training as well as health promotion and disease prevention research in rural primary care settings in cities and towns across the state of Kansas. The summer of 2010 marked the eighteenth consecutive year that the program has operated out of the University of Kansas Medical Center, Department of Family Medicine. The program placed twenty-nine medical students at rural sites across the state of Kansas. Before students were dispersed to the rural clinics they spent a week of clinical orientation and research training at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City and attended the Kansas Academy of Family Physicians (KAFP) annual meeting in Overland Park, KS. They spent the next six weeks working with primary care physician preceptors in clinical sites, where they also contributed to several research projects. The program concluded at the end of July, and the students returned to their second year medical school.
The Rural Primary Care Practice and Research Program is funded by the Baker Trust of Lacrosse, Kansas, the Sunflower Foundation and the United Methodist Foundation. We would also like to extend our gratitude to each of our physician preceptors who gave up their time and educational energy to ensure the success of this program for those students with an aptitude and interest in primary care and rural practice. This program could never succeed without the dedication of our preceptors and we want to be sure that they realize that we are all, from students to faculty researchers, in their debt. We feel this program continues to provide a unique learning opportunity for students to advance clinical skills and to begin to understand the complexity of clinical practice. It also offers students a chance to understand the rewards of such practice and the fulfillment a physician receives from providing direct service to patients and families in the community setting. We believe participants in this program will be able to share their enthusiasm with their peers in medical school. Furthermore, our prior study and analysis indicates that students who have participated in this program are more likely to pursue residencies in primary care and ultimately become part of the rural primary care workforce in the State of Kansas.