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.
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
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
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.
- Increase knowledge about rural practice settings
- Understand specialty practices within rural
- 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
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
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:
Health workforce education and training
Recruitment and retention of health professionals
July 15, 2016
Date updated or reviewed
September 27, 2023
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub,
MU AHEC Summer Community Program [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at:
[Accessed 29 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.