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Rural Health Information Hub

Health Profession Rural Summer Immersion Program

  • Need: To expose medical and physician assistant students to rural healthcare practices and a rural lifestyle.
  • Intervention: A two-week immersion program for second-year students to experience rural healthcare and rural life in Connecticut and New York.
  • Results: In post-program evaluations from 2016 to 2018, 50% of students reported being very likely to practice in a rural setting, compared to just over 10% of students before the program.


The Health Profession Rural Summer Immersion Program (HPRSIP) was spearheaded by the Foundation for Community Health in rural Sharon, Connecticut, to attract medical (allopathic and osteopathic) and physician assistant students to practice in Litchfield County, Connecticut, and eastern Dutchess County, New York. These second-year students came from:

  • Marist College School of Science Physician Assistant Program
  • Quinnipiac University Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine
  • Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • UConn School of Medicine

The following facilities hosted rotations or provided lectures for students:

HPRSIP counties map
HPRSIP serves Litchfield County, CT, and eastern Dutchess County, NY.
  • Geer Village Senior Community
  • Mountainside Treatment Center
  • North Canaan Volunteer Ambulance Corp.
  • Senior Living at Noble Horizons
  • Sharon Hospital
  • Sun River Health (a Federally Qualified Health Center)
  • UConn Migrant Farm Worker Clinics
  • Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Litchfield County (home health)

Services offered

Up to 9 students each year were selected for the HPRSIP. During this two-week immersion program, second-year health professional students:

  • Shadowed health professionals
  • Reviewed case studies
  • Attended lectures and clinician panel discussions
  • Learned about team-based healthcare
  • Participated in a community service project and an onsite farm workers' clinic
  • Experienced the community's lifestyle


Between 2016 and 2018, 74% (20) of HPRSIP participants were from an urban or suburban community and 5% were from a rural community. Of these participants:

  • Before the program, 10% of students rated their knowledge of rural healthcare systems as "good." After the program, 30% rated it as "very good" or "outstanding."
  • Before the program, just over 10% of students reported being very likely to practice in a rural community. After the program, 50% of students reported being very likely.
2018 and 2019 classes of HPRSIP
HPRSIP classes of 2018 (left) and 2019.


Program coordinators said student recruitment within the colleges and universities was the most time-consuming part of the inaugural HPRSIP class, but this process became easier as past participants spoke about the program's benefits to their fellow students.


Foundation for Community Health logo

The Foundation for Community Health collaborated with stakeholders from healthcare, local government, businesses, education, and others. Two boarding schools in Lakeville, CT, donated housing for the students, and local businesses, including the Chamber of Commerce, provided meals and recreational/cultural events free or at a discount to the students.

In preparation to conduct a summer session, the Foundation for Community Health acted as the point person, spending about two hours each week for a couple of months:

  • Scheduling and conducting meetings
  • Confirming and/or establishing partnerships/participation
  • Helping committee members complete assignments

Depending on their expertise, committee members shared additional tasks such as creating program applications and marketing materials and designing evaluation tools. Planning partners include:

  • Catskill Hudson Area Health Education Center
  • Connecticut Office of Rural Health
  • Foundation for Community Health
  • Geer Village Senior Community
  • Health360
  • Northwestern Connecticut Community College
  • Sharon Hospital
  • Sun River Health

Contact Information

Cathy Glasner, Office and Grants Manager
Foundation for Community Health

Interprofessional training of the health workforce
Networking and collaboration
Physician assistants
Recruitment and retention of health professionals

States served
Connecticut, New York

Date added
June 15, 2020

Date updated or reviewed
June 5, 2023

Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2023. Health Profession Rural Summer Immersion Program [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: [Accessed 20 February 2024]

Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.