MSUToday
Published: Oct. 7, 2015

College of Human Medicine expands rural health program

Contact(s): Geri Kelley College of Human Medicine office: (616) 233-1678 cell: (616) 350-7976 Geri.Kelley@hc.msu.edu, Sarina Gleason Media Communications office: (517) 355-9742 sarina.gleason@cabs.msu.edu

Michigan State University College of Human Medicine has announced the expansion of its Rural Community Health Program in mid-Michigan and the Thumb area. The intent of the program is to prepare future physicians with the skills to practice within evolving community-based rural health networks.

Three health systems are partnering with MSU as rural education sites for the college's Midland Regional campus students, including MidMichigan Medical Centers in Alma and Clare and Scheurer Hospital in Pigeon. Each site includes a rural hospital, the surrounding medical communities and the local public health department.

“The Rural Community Health Program builds upon the core strengths of our college’s history of community-focused programs for underserved populations in Michigan,” said Aron Sousa,  interim dean of the College of Human Medicine. “This program is exceptional in medical education because it transcends traditional health system boundaries. Together with our partners at MidMichigan Medical Center and Scheurer, we will impact long term rural care in our communities and beyond.”

Once selected for the Rural Community Health Program, medical students will spend up to six months in an assigned rural site. There, students learn clinical skills and also gain experience with the varied roles of a rural physician, from treating medical needs to providing leadership in public health and community health care. It is anticipated that the program will eventually have up to 12 medical students at the three rural education sites.

Andrea Wendling, a rural family physician and associate professor at the College of Human Medicine is director of the Rural Community Health Program.

“The Thumb and mid-Michigan have wonderful health care providers and practices in place,” said Wendling. “We just need to attract future rurally-minded physicians so that all communities can benefit. This program is a great place to start.”

The Rural Community Health program is supported by a grant from the Herbert and Grace Dow Foundation of Midland.