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LISTEN: PURCH track at UMMS-Baystate focuses on rural, urban community health

UMass Medical School welcomed its third class of students into the Population-based Urban and Rural Community Health track, or PURCH this year. It’s a specialized medical degree track for students who want to practice medicine in diverse, underserved urban and rural communities. Amanda Whitehouse, a third-year medical student, joined a Voices of UMassMed podcast to discuss what makes the PURCH program different.

“We’re learning from people in the community who have experiences with different challenges in the community,” said Whitehouse, one of 22 members of the inaugural PURCH track at UMMS-Baystate.

The PURCH program is based at the regional campus called UMass Medical School-Baystate in Springfield. The UMMS School of Medicine admits students from in and out-of-state every year. In all, there are 72 PURCH students, who come from across the United States.

“We’re really on the leading edge, which is introducing the next generation of health care providers and physicians of the future to learning about population health at their earliest stage of development in medical school,” said Andrew Artenstein, MD, regional executive dean of the UMMS- Baystate Regional campus.

Students in the PURCH program at UMMS-Baystate participate in the same course of study as other School of Medicine students, plus they have additional augmented curricula work that includes interactions with specific populations in an urban or rural setting.

Colton Conrad is also a third-year medical student and member of the first PURCH class. In the podcast, he recalls an experience during his first-year when he had the opportunity to interview inmates.

“We got to talk to people about their life, their problems with access to health care when they’re outside of jail, and basically what sort of health care disparities you’re facing even when you’re in jail and health care is something that is supposed to be guaranteed to you,” Conrad said. “So, it was a very interesting experience because I had never worked with a prison or jail population before.”

Learn more about PURCH at: The 2018 edition of the @umassmed magazine features an article about the PURCH program:

To listen to other episodes of the Voices of UMassMed podcast, visit:

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