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
Quinnipiac University Frank H. Netter MD School of
Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine
UConn School of Medicine
The following facilities hosted rotations or provided
lectures for students:
Geer Village Senior Community
Mountainside Treatment Center
North Canaan Volunteer Ambulance Corp.
Senior Living at Noble Horizons
Sun River Health (a Federally Qualified Health
UConn Migrant Farm Worker Clinics
Visiting Nurse and Hospice of
Litchfield County (home health)
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
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.
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.
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
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.