Medical Education, Rural, Affinity Model


Medical Education


Keeping Rural Medical Students Connected to their Roots: A “Home for the Holidays” Immersion Experience



Preclinical medical students with an initial affinity for rural practice often experience urban disruption during training. Longer summer rural immersion experiences have been shown to be somewhat effective in keeping rural students connected to their rural roots. Some students cannot adapt their schedules to these longer experiences. In response, a brief practice experience near home during the winter break of the academic year was established.


Nineteen detailed rural practice assessments were completed by preclinical medical students during school years 2009-2014 and essays and anonymous evaluations of the experience were analyzed.


All students reported the four components of the experience increased understanding of rural medicine and all but 2 reported it was relevant to their career objectives. These two, at this early stage in training, decided rural practice was not for them and subsequently chose sub-specialty training. Six of the 12 (50%) who have completed medical school chose a family medicine residency. The themes in the essay portion included insights into rural lifestyle, returning home, health system organization issues, and patient expectations and traditions.


Initial experience with a “home for the holidays” approach for rural immersion of rural medical students was successful in reconnecting these students to their roots, and 17/19 (90%) reported their intention to choose rural practice.