An Evaluation of the Rural Medical Education Program of the State University of New York Upstate Medical University, 1990–2003


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Abstract

PurposeThe Rural Medical Education Program (RMED) of the State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University is a 36-week clinical experience in rural communities for medical students that began in 1989. The authors sought to assess RMED’s success in providing a valuable educational experience for students that assists rural communities recruit physicians.MethodIn 2004, the authors used the Physician Masterfiles of the American Medical Association to compare practice locations of SUNY Upstate graduates who completed RMED with those who did not; surveyed former RMED students to assess their satisfaction with their practice location and the importance of RMED in helping them choose a location; interviewed hospital administrators in communities that have hosted RMED students to understand the impact of RMED on host communities; and compared United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 2 scores of RMED students with those of non-RMED students to evaluate educational attainment.ResultsA greater percentage of former RMED students practiced in rural locations [22/86 (26%)] than did non-RMED students [95/1,307 (7%)]. Ninety-one percent (69/76) of former RMED students were satisfied with their location, and 84% (64/76) believed that RMED was important in helping them choose a location. Hospital administrators viewed the program highly because it helped them recruit physicians and benefitted their medical staff. RMED students had higher adjusted mean Step 2 scores than did non-RMED students (212.3 versus 199.1).ConclusionThe RMED program has successfully met its goals of providing a valuable educational experience for medical students and assisting rural communities recruit physicians.

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