The Minnesota Rural Physician Associate Program for medical students


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Abstract

The Rural Physician Associate Program (RPAP) at the University of Minnesota Medical School is a clinical education experience for third-year students that lasts nine to 12 months. In 1970 the Minnesota legislature required the medical school faculty to find an educational method to redistribute physicians into the medically underserved rural areas of Minnesota or lose state funds for the medical school. After 16 years of the program, all 87 counties in Minnesota have an acceptable ratio of general physicians for the first time in the state's history. RPAP students work directly with and are supervised by general physicians practicing in rural areas; these preceptors have an average age of 40 years, are board-certified, and have 12 years of clinical experience. They give their teaching services and a $2,500 stipend to the student; the state provides $7,000 to the student with no obligation that the student practice in rural Minnesota after training. The preceptors, RPAP staff members, and visiting university faculty members provide 50, 30, and 20 percent, respectively, of a student's grades for the program; the student receives six months of credit for the program. As of 1986, 57 percent of the former RPAP students in practice were practicing in rural communities, with a majority in Minnesota and a majority in towns with populations less than 10,000.

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