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Rural Health Information Hub

MU AHEC Summer Community Program

  • Need: Lack of healthcare providers, specifically physicians, in rural Missouri.
  • Intervention: Rising second-year medical students at University of Missouri's School of Medicine are given the opportunity to participate in a clinical program in a rural community setting.
  • Results: Almost half of the participants from 1996-2010 chose to practice in rural locations upon graduation.


Effective (About evidence-level criteria)


Over 20 years ago, the University of Missouri School of Medicine (MUSOM) had already established a rural training track, the MU AHEC Rural Track Pipeline Program. This program also includes the Summer Community Program in an effort to address the physician shortage in rural areas of the state. The Pipeline Program encompasses 4 distinct — yet related — curriculum and clinical components. These sequential programs provide students with ongoing exposure to rural medicine.

As part of University of Missouri Area Health Education Center (MU AHEC), this summer program offers second-year medical students the opportunity to participate in a rural clinic and community setting for 4 to 8 weeks. Students work with one or more community-based physicians in a variety of specialties. During the program, students experience the benefits and rewards of rural practice.

Medical students in good academic standing on entry to their second year are eligible for the program. Twenty to 30 students are accepted and each clinical site accepts usually one student. Students are also able to request placement in their rural hometown.

Each student is officially sponsored by a participating hospital or clinic in rural Missouri and is given a stipend and coverage for room and board if not living with family.

Services offered

Under the direction of their preceptor, students become proficient in performing patient histories and physical examinations and gain experience with medical assessments and problem management. On a voluntary basis, students are also able to participate in a Community Exploration Project to gain a more holistic perspective into the needs, resources, and difficulties associated with delivering healthcare in rural areas.

Program goals:

  • Increase knowledge about rural practice settings
  • Understand specialty practices within rural communities
  • Allow comparison between community-based and academic-based practices

Preceptors give students feedback throughout the entirety of the program and complete a final written evaluation. A letter of recognition is provided with successful program completion.


As of 2016, 404 students successfully completed the Summer Community Program since its 1995 inception.

A 2013 study included 229 medical students who participated in this program from 1996-2010. Results of this study found:

  • 72% of participating medical students expressed increased interest in rural practice
  • 46% of past participants chose to practice in a rural location upon graduation

For more detailed results:

Kane, K., Quinn, K., Stevermer, J., Porter, J., Webb, W., Williamson, H., & Burdin, J. (2013, August). Summer in the country: changes in medical students' perceptions following an innovative rural community experience. Academic Medicine, 88(8):1157-63. Article Abstract


Many rural hospitals may wish to participate but cannot afford the student stipend and/or cannot provide housing.


To replicate a similar rural program, these resources are available by contacting the program:

Contact Information

Allison Fuemmeler, Program/Project Support Coordinator
University of Missouri Area Health Education Center (MU AHEC)
MU AHEC Summer Community Program

Health workforce education and training
Recruitment and retention of health professionals

States served

Date added
July 15, 2016

Date updated or reviewed
September 27, 2023

Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2023. MU AHEC Summer Community Program [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: [Accessed 19 July 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.