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RUSCH Program Addresses Areas Lacking Adequate Health Care

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MADISON – Eleven University of Wisconsin System undergraduate students—all of whom envision future careers as physicians caring for rural and urban patients in Wisconsin—are about to enter the first of two academic years in a new program addressing a serious state and national threat: inadequate access to quality health care for many individuals in urban and rural areas, where too few physicians choose to practice.

The undergrad pre-med students recently finished the inaugural summer session of Rural and Urban Scholars in Community Health (RUSCH), a new offering of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, in partnership with UW-Milwaukee and UW-Platteville, the academic homes to six and five of the initial students, respectively.

"RUSCH serves as a bridge between the SMPH, UW-Platteville and UW-Milwaukee to encourage future medical students to consider practicing in underserved areas," UW School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) Dean Dr. Robert Golden says of the new program, which includes community health experiences, career mentoring, research opportunities and academic support.

"Because RUSCH aims to attract students from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds who plan to attend the SMPH—and to subsequently practice in rural or urban areas of Wisconsin—it provides a wonderful opportunity to increase the diversity in the backgrounds of our students," he says.

To be eligible for the program, students must have fulfilled science course prerequisites; met minimum GPA standards; completed at least a year of undergraduate study; and demonstrated a commitment to community service.

Dr. Byron Crouse, UW School of Medicine and Public Health associate dean for rural and community health, notes, "RUSCH is among three SMPH initiatives—modeled after successful national programs—that are designed to address Wisconsin's worsening shortage of physicians, particularly among those who practice in underserved areas."

The school's other programs with goals that complement RUSCH are:

"The strong academic programs in science and biology at UW-Platteville and UW-Milwaukee result in students who are well-prepared to be successful in RUSCH," Crouse notes.

 

Through opportunities to learn about careers in medicine and to participate in community health-improvement projects, students in the RUSCH program develop knowledge, skills and attitudes that prepare them for admission to and success in medical school and future medical practices.

 

The inaugural six-week summer session exposed students to public health concepts and community health resources through community service projects with underserved urban and rural populations in Milwaukee and Platteville, respectively.

 

In August, these students will enter the first of two academic-year experiences, during which each student will be linked with a mentor. The students will attend seminars on medical and health care topics; participate in research and community service; and begin a review of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to prepare for medical school application.

Admission into the RUSCH program does not guarantee admission to medical school. However, students who successfully complete the RUSCH program will be given consideration, along with other students, if they apply for admission to the WARM and TRIUMPH programs.

"It has been gratifying to see the excitement this program has generated, not only among our pre-med students and faculty, but also among the doctors and administrators at Platteville's hospital. Everyone recognizes the problem of finding health professionals interested in working in rural communities and urban centers. It's wonderful that UW-Platteville can team with UW-Madison to help address this problem," explains Dr. Duane Ford, dean of the UW-Platteville College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture, and a member of the Southwest Health Center board of directors.

 


Date Published: 08/03/2009


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