Medical school degree aimed at preparing students to help rural and underserved communities


The College of Medicine will help increase the availability of medical care in small towns and rural areas through its new degree course. Credit: Lantern File Photo

The College of Medicine partners with Bon Secours Mercy Health to help increase the availability of medical care in small towns and rural areas.

Dr. Daniel Clinchot, associate dean for education at the Faculty of Medicine, said community medicine will be a new pathway to a medical degree to prepare physicians of all medical specialties to practice in less populated areas. , from 2024.

“Through our state legislature and the governor’s office, we know there is a shortage of doctors in small towns and rural areas,” Clinchot said. “I think Ohio State felt the need to try to meet that state need.”

In 2020, only 11% of doctors practiced in rural areas, according to the American Association of Medical Collegesand rural areas are more likely to suffer from shortages of health professionals.

Along that path, Clinchot said students will complete their first two years of medical school at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center and their second two years at Mercy Health – St. Rita’s Medical Center in Lima, Ohio.

“They’ll have their first two years with the rest of the traditional medicine class, except they’ll have special programming that kind of helps them understand the best practices for practicing in small, rural communities,” Clinchot said.

Clinchot said medical students tend to practice in the fields they study.

“It’s much harder to have students training in a city like Columbus and then going to a rural area or small town to practice,” Clinchot said. “It’s a lot easier for them to see it as a life if they train in that space.”

Dr. Matthew Owens, clinical director of Mercy Health, said this path came to fruition through Wexner Medical Center and Mercy Health. Healthy State Alliance – an effort to improve the health and well-being of Ohio.

“The great thing is that between Mercy Health and Ohio State, we have entered into this alliance so that we can improve the world of not only health care, but also medical education across the state,” Owens said.

The community medicine pathway is open to all students regardless of the medical specialty they wish to pursue, Clinchot said.

“They need surgeons, they need primary care physicians, they need pediatricians, so we won’t limit what specialty the student goes into,” Clinchot said. “If you are on this path, you can choose any specialty because the community will benefit because they have needs in all types of doctors in these fields.”

Clinchot said to be accepted into the program, students must demonstrate a commitment to practicing medicine in a small-to-medium sized city or rural area. According to the path websitemembers of the admissions committee will interview applicants and determine their commitment.

“I think Lima was a good choice because it’s a smaller city, and it attracts a large rural population and takes care of those people,” Clinchot said. “I think Lima has a lot of underserved areas, and I think our medical students will help improve the health of people in that community.”

Clinchot said each year 15 students will be accepted into the community medicine stream. After full implementation, there will be 60 students in the program. He said there was no cost difference between the community medicine track and other medical school tracks at Ohio State.

Owens said this pathway will provide students with a direct look into their future.

“Much of the medical training is done in large academic centers, which is wonderful because there are a variety of exposures that take place there. But, to be honest, most medicine is practiced in community hospitals,” Owens said. “This is where medical trainees aren’t necessarily exposed a lot throughout their training.”

Clinchot said the first cohort will start in August 2024 and students can start applying in June 2023.

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