ROME Rural Scholars Program

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The ROME program at UNTHSC is an innovative educational program designed to prepare students for life and practice in a rural and underserved community.  Admission to the program will begin during the first semester of the first year.  This rural medicine curriculum includes academic activities and clinical experiences that will continue throughout all four years of undergraduate medical education.

Students accepted into the rural program, in addition to completing all regular curriculum courses during years 1 and 2, will have additional curriculum pertinent to rural and international medicine. These courses provide students with the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills needed for a career in rural medicine.  Goals of the additional curriculum in the first two years are to help prepare the student for more hands on patient care experiences and more independent learning in rural and international contexts.

Didactic Courses

Fundamentals of Rural Medical Practice
Applied Principles of Rural Medical Practice 1 & 2

The Rural Medicine courses are completed in addition to the regular medical school curriculum during semesters 1-4 of years 1 and 2. The curriculum introduces issues of telemedicine, pathophysiology, and specific clinical problems and procedures relevant to rural medicine which present unique diagnostic and management issues.  Each session correlates with the study of a specific systems course. Each course is comprised of a variety of activities that may include classroom learning sessions, rural clinical correlations, rural topic presentations, skills lab, and clinical experiences. Emphasis is placed on special patient populations found in rural communities, rural environmental health risks and early clinical experiences.

Below are examples of topics and experiences offered in the rural scholars program.

Year 1
Introduction to skills in medical interviewing and physical exam with trained patients
Procedural Competency:
Joint Injection, Suturing, EKG, Venipuncture, IV, Injections, Suturing, Gynecological Exam, Male Catheterization, and Cardiac Auscultation
Agricultural Medicine workshop and field trip
Clinical Encounters at Mercy Clinic
Sonosim and Ultrasound Workshop experiences

Year 2
Advanced skills in medical interviewing and physical exam with trained patient encounters
Understanding the needs of Special Patient Populations in Rural Texas
Agricultural Medicine workshop and field trip
Mental Health Service in Rural Texas
Clinical Encounters at Mercy Clinic
Sonosim and Ultrasound Workshop experiences
Preparation for Community Research projects
Procedural Competency:
Central Line Placement, Chest Tube insertion, Intubation, Tracheotomy, Spirometry, Thoracentesis, Nasogastric Tube Placement, Paracentesis, and advanced cardiac auscultation, Colposcopy, Wet Mount, Lumbar Puncture, Joint Injections, Suturing, and Telemedicine Consults

Student’s knowledge and level of competency acquired from each course will be assessed through assignments, quizzes, written exams and an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).

Rural Family Medicine Experience Year 1
Students will participate in a a four-day experience that typically occurs over the summer after Year 1 and are encouraged to become involved in the community during the time he/she is there. Students will be afforded the opportunity to work with the Texas Family Medicine Preceptorship Program as well International experiences at select institutions to facilitate the 4 day experience. Students enrolled in the Primary Care Pipeline Program would be expected to take part in clinical activities in Midland for this summer. All students will be highly encouraged to participate in an ER experience as part of the 4 day visit.

Community Health Research Project
Each student will participate in a ROME research initiative. The initiatives will provide the student experience in “community responsiveness” and leadership through participation in research projects to address a relevant health concern in rural and underserved areas in Texas and internationally.

Clinical Rotations/Electives

The Year 3 core clinical clerkships for the Rural Scholars Program are designed to provide focused training which will prepare the student for the practice of medicine in a rural setting.  Students will be expected to spend a majority of their 3rd year outside the DFW Metroplex at designated rural-based training sites. Exceptions may be made at the discretion of the Project Director.

Rural Family Medicine/OMM Clerkship:  
A required twelve (12) week Year 3 core clerkship in Family Medicine and OMM that focuses on cognitive and behavioral skill building as well as procedural competency. This clerkship includes an intensive didactic and hands-on review of OMM. Students will incorporate OMT into the management of patients they see under supervision at their rural continuity site. All required elements of the 1 month OMM core Clerkship are integrated over the entire 12 weeks.

International Opportunities:
OB/GYN, PEDS in Malawi (6 weeks)
General Medicine Elective in Thailand (4 weeks)
Surgery in Malawi (4 weeks)

NOTE: The distribution, and sequencing of Year 3 and 4 clerkships are subject to change.

Family Medicine/Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine

12 weeks
Internal Medicine (Ambulatory and Hospital) 8 weeks

General Surgery

(One month MUST be done as general surgery.  2nd four weeks are optional for specialty surgery or continuation of general surgery rotation.)

8 weeks
Pediatrics (Ambulatory and Hospital) 6 weeks
Obstetrics/Gynecology 6 weeks
Psychiatry 4 weeks
Year 3 Elective 4 weeks


YEAR 4 Core Clinical Clerkships (40 weeks)

The final year of the Rural Scholars Program consists of required and elective clinical rotations that will provide the student with experiences especially relevant to the practice of medicine in a rural/underserved setting. Rotation sites will include tertiary urban centers and rural clinical sites to facilitate the best training possible.



     Rural Family Medicine Site

4 weeks
Emergency Medicine 4 weeks
Electives per Clinical Education Curriculum 32 weeks


Geriatrics Core Clerkship
A required four (4) week clinical rotation completed during the fourth year. The goal is to provide a capstone educational experience in rural medicine during which time the student will refine the skills necessary for the foundation for competent, compassionate care of the rural patient of all ages.