Population-based Urban and Rural Community Health (PURCH)


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The Population-based Urban and Rural Community Health (PURCH) Track prepares medical students to practice successfully in the post-healthcare reform world by training them to manage the health of both individuals and populations.

You will learn how to apply concepts of population health in diverse inpatient and outpatient clinical settings with largely underserved urban and rural communities.

  • For students interested in primary care, specialty care, research, or any career open to physicians
  • Based at the UMMS-Baystate regional campus in Springfield, MA
  • Matriculates up to 25 students per year


Health care is undergoing a paradigm change—physicians are expected to manage the health of their entire population of patients, providing a continuum of care from prevention to disease management.

Doctors must shift their focus from a single patient to the community, and develop a deeper understanding of the interwoven social and environmental factors that contribute to health disparities.

PURCH prepares you for the health care revolution by teaching you to think comprehensively about the effect of socio-economic, policy, and environmental factors on health outcomes.

How Does PURCH Compare to the Traditional MD Track?

PURCH follows the same traditional MD program curriculum—but is augmented by a focus on population health and healthcare issues specific to urban and rural communities.  

The PURCH approach is patient-centered, team-based care that is integrated within the community. You will engage with patients and our community to understand their perspectives on health disparities.

The PURCH Track features innovative, immersive learning experiences.  Our students have interviewed those living in homeless shelters and jails, visited local bodegas to see what it’s like to live in a food desert, and learned about clinical reasoning by observing the diagnostic skills of an auto mechanic.

PURCH is based at the UMMS-Baystate regional campus in Springfield, MAThe small number of students in the Track ensure you will get plenty of hands-on experience. Our teachers are passionate about investing in your development as physicians trained to work with the underserved.

What Courses Will I Take at Each Campus?

Your time will be split between Baystate and the main campus in Worcester, and you will have Brightwood Learning Community spaces at both campuses.

  • Years 1 and 2: Most basic science courses will be at the main campus. Doctoring and Clinical Skills, Population Health, and Physical Diagnosis are at the UMMS-Baystate campus.
  • Years 3 & 4: Clerkships and rotations are at the UMMS-Baystate campus. Some electives may be taken at the main campus.
  • Capstone Scholarship project is tailored to the goals and priorities of the PURCH Track with the guidance of your PURCH-focused Capstone advisor

Explore more about PURCH – its curriculum, faculty, day in the life and UMMS-Baystate Regional Campus

How to Apply to the PURCH Track:

Application to the PURCH Track at UMass Medical School (UMMS) is made through the secondary application process. Applicants interested in the PURCH Track first apply to UMMS through AMCAS. All applicants receive detailed information about the PURCH Track with their secondary application materials. The PURCH Track application is accessible in the UMMS secondary application website. Any questions regarding the PURCH Track and/or policies around opting in or out should be directed to the Office of Admissions at admissions@umassmed.edu or 508 856 2323.

PURCH Track Selection Process:

Those applying to the PURCH Track will be reviewed for the MD program and the PURCH Track. Those applicants who are selected for an interview will be invited to participate in the PURCH Track interview process and visit both campuses during a two day visit.

The visit at the main campus will include the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI), interactions with first and second year students, along with an overview of UMMS and a tour of the main campus. 

The regional campus portion of the visit will involve PURCH Track candidates spending an additional day at the UMMS-Baystate campus, and will participate in the Multi Mini Interview (MMI) process with Baystate faculty, staff and others. Applicants will also participate in regional campus and community overviews and tours.

PURCH Track applicants must perform satisfactorily in both the MMI and regional campus interview process in order for their application to move forward.

Applicants will be considered for admission to the MD or MD/PhD program and the PURCH Track.  

The number of positions available in the PURCH Track is limited to 25. Failure to be accepted into the PURCH Track does not adversely impact being considered for the Worcester campus MD program. Please be sure to review our PURCH Track policies around opting in or out. 

PURCH Track Policies:

Be sure to review the PURCH Track policies before applying.

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