The Association of American Medical Colleges projects an increasing shortage of physicians in rural areas. Medical schools have developed specialty track programs to improve the recruitment and retention of physicians who can serve rural populations. One such program in California includes a variety of unique elements including outreach, admissions, rural clinical experiences, focused mentorship, scholarly and leadership opportunities, and engagement with rural communities. Preliminary outcomes demonstrate that this rural track program has achieved some success in the recruitment, retention, and training of students interested in future rural practice and in the placement of students in primary care residencies. Long-term outcomes, such as graduates entering rural practice, are still unknown, but will be monitored to assess the impact and sustainability of the rural program. This article illustrates the opportunities and challenges of training medical students for rural practice and provides lessons learned to inform newly-established and long standing rural medical education programs.


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pp. 1674-1688
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