During the summer after the first year of medical school, Scholars can work in service or research positions in rural/small town practices or agencies. Stipends are available for these experiences.
Through the years, students have gone to places from Martha's Vineyard to northern California. The Rural Health Scholars program has connections throughout the country, but we also encourage students to get program help in designing their own experience.
Amanda's Summer on Martha's Vineyard
"During the summer between my first and second year of medical school I was fortunate enough to get a position working on Martha's Vineyard through the rural health scholars program. With the help of Suzanne Cashman and Murray Frank I had the opportunity to work in the rural health clinic run by nurse practitioners, shadow a primary care physician, and spend time at the Vineyard Health Care Access Program. With this three pronged experience I got a well rounded view of the health care system on the island. I not only improved some core clinical skills like checking blood pressures, performing lab tests and interviewing patients but also had the opportunity to learn more about the challenges and rewards of working as a primary care doctor in a rural area. My time there was extremely rewarding in both a professional and personal sense. I made great relationships with the NPs I worked with and had the chance to explore a beautiful place during the summer months. I also feel I gained confidence in my clinical abilities and really got a clear picture of what advantages and barriers exist in a rural practice. Leaving the Vineyard solidified my recent decision to pursue a career in family medicine, and I am hopeful that I might have the chance to spend a month on the island for one of my fourth year rotations."
-Amanda, UMMS '08
Sheila's summer in Maine
“Driving up to my housing in Belgrade Lakes, Maine, I knew I was in for a good summer. The surrounding town seemed like more of a village, with cute little shops and inns, and the house was right on the lake. My roommate had already made friends with a couple of the neighbors down the street, and as the weeks went by I came to know more and more of the residents in my small community. I can see myself living in just this type of town after medical school, and it was the perfect place for me to get a taste of medicine in a small community.
The family practice residency site where I spent most of my time was a beautiful 30 minute drive away. (I learned this was a standard commute in Maine!) There I worked with many different practitioners who patiently led me through their daily routines. I was exposed to many aspects of medicine I had not seen before and came to more fully appreciate the subtleties of the doctor-patient relationship. The sense of community I appreciated in Belgrade Lakes carried over to the practice, where individuals’ and families’ life stories were interconnected and most of the children went to the same schools.
Coming from a city, I couldn’t believe how nice everyone was and how interested they all were in making sure I had a good experience. Several practitioners suggested opportunities that enriched my experience by exposing me to other elements of medicine in the community. These “enrichment activities” included several days working with migrant workers through the Maine Migrant Health Program, a day spent with a home health nurse, a day in a specialty wound clinic, and a couple of days at Maine’s Family Planning Association. My preceptor also drew me into the community by inviting me over for dinner my last night in Maine. I expected to enjoy my summer in Maine, but I don’t think I realized quite how much I would gain from my experience. I gained valuable medical experience and, because I loved being in a small community so much, perspective on my future plans. Above all, I had a great time!”
-Sheila, UMMS '09
Sandy's summer in the Berkshires and the Eastern Shore of Maryland
During the summer after first-year, I was lucky enough to spend time in The Berkshires and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Working with physicians in both areas allowed me to really get a feel for family medicine and also what it was like to practice in a rural area. I would recommend this type of experience for any medical student interested in rural primary care. Please take this opportunity to look over my slides and contact me with any questions.
Meg's Summer in Maine with the SEARCH Program