Serving Small Towns

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In Minnesota, nearly 70% of our counties are considered medically under-served.

It’s a figure our Medical School is determined to improve.

The University of Minnesota has long has been recognized for its efforts to improve access to health care in rural areas through efforts to increase the number of medical students who go on to practice in Minnesota’s rural communities.

In fact, the Medical School was recognized in 2010 for graduating the most rural physicians in the nation.

Rural Physician Associate Program

Each year, between 30 and 40 third-year medical students have the opportunity to participate in the Rural Physician Associate Program (RPAP). These students live in smaller under-served rural communities and truly develop an understanding of what life is like for rural doctors.

Since the program’s beginnings in 1971, about 60% of RPAP graduates practice in rural areas, and about 80% choose careers in primary care. RPAP grads also tend to become instructors for the program, helping the next generation of future physicians learn about the rewards of practicing rural medicine.

Duluth campus

The Duluth campus of the Medical School has a particular mission to educate doctors in both primary care and for greater Minnesota. Each year about 60 first-year students enter the program in Duluth, which offers clinical experiences with doctors in small or Native American communities. The Duluth program educates future doctors for the first 2 years, after which they come to the Twin Cities campus for years 3 and 4.

Minnesota’s Future Doctors

Minnesota’s Future Doctors program helps prepare students who are under-represented in the medical field, including those from rural areas, to successfully apply to medical school.

The program recruits promising undergraduates who are interested in medicine and provides them with opportunities to learn about medical school, college enrichment, service projects, and patient interactions. 


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RPAP is a nine-month, community-based educational experience for University of Minnesota third-year medical students who live and train in rural communities.


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Rather than simply creating an "urban" care system in rural Minnesota, the CRMHS develops solutions through a system of mental heath care that fits the rural setting culturally, financially, and geographically.

More Information

  • The University of Minnesota Medical School Duluth campus

    60 first-year students enter our doors each year eager to learn the science and art of medicine.

  • Med schools and teaching hospitals make big impact

    Minnesota's medical schools and teaching hospitals had more than an $8.4 billion impact on the state.

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  • Last modified on November 13, 2014