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, CT, to attract medical (allopathic and osteopathic) and physician assistant students to practice in Litchfield County, CT, and eastern Dutchess County, NY. These second-year students have come from:
- Marist College School of Science Physician Assistant Program
- Quinnipiac University Frank H. Netter M.D. School of Medicine
- Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine
The following facilities have hosted rotations or provided lectures for students:
- Geer Village Senior Community
- HRHCare Health Center (a Federally Qualified Health Center)
- Mountainside Treatment Center
- North Canaan Volunteer Ambulance Corp.
- Noble Horizons Retirement Community
- Salisbury Visiting Nurse Association (home health)
You can learn more about the program's history in the Summer 2019 Issue Brief.
Up to 9 students each year are selected for the HPRSIP. During this two-week immersion program, second-year health professional students:
- Shadow health professionals
- Review case studies
- Attend lectures and clinician panel discussions
- Learn about team-based healthcare
- Participate in a community service project and an onsite farm workers' clinic
- Experience 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."
Program coordinators said student recruitment within the colleges and universities was the most time-consuming part of the inaugural HPRSIP class, but this process has become easier since past participants can speak to the program's benefits. The program also offers a brochure.
The Foundation for Community Health collaborated with stakeholders from healthcare, local government, businesses, education, and others. Two boarding schools in Lakeville, CT, have donated housing for the students, and local businesses, including the chamber of commerce, provide meals and recreational/cultural events free of cost or at a discount to the students.
In preparation to conduct a summer session, the Foundation for Community Health acts 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
Depending on their expertise, committee members share additional tasks such as creating program applications and marketing materials and designing evaluation tools. Planning partners include:
- Catskill Hudson Area Health Education Center
- Connecticut State Office of Rural Health
- Foundation for Community Health
- Geer Village Senior Community
- HRHCare Health Center
- Northwestern Connecticut Community College
- Sharon Hospital
Interprofessional training of the health workforce
Networking and collaboration
Recruitment and retention of health professionals
Connecticut, New York
June 15, 2020
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2020. Health Profession Rural Summer Immersion Program [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/1086 [Accessed 15 May 2021]
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.