Ruth Westra, DO, MPH

Department Head, Department of Family Medicine and BioBehavioral Health

Ruth Westra

Contact Info

Office Phone 218-726-8552

Office Address:
University of Minnesota Duluth
143 SMED
1035 University Dr
Duluth, MN 55812

Mt. Clemens General Hospital

DO, Des Moines University

MPH, Loma Linda University


Ruth Westra, DO, MPH, heads the University of Minnesota Medical School Department of Family Medicine and Biobehavioral Health on the Duluth Campus. She directs the Introduction to Rural Family Medicine and Native American Health Care Course, and Medical Education through Diversity and Service Global Health, OB Longitudinal and the Rural Academy of Leadership elective courses. She is the Clinical Course Director for the required Skin/Musculoskeleal Course and the GI Course.She serves as Rural Physician Associate Program faculty. She is a learning Community advisor and also serves as a faculty advisor to the student-run free clinic, HOPE Clinic. She holds the Endowed Chair for Rural Family Medicine. She practices at the Gateway Family Clinic in Moose Lake, MN.

Before joining the Duluth Campus in 2001, she also practiced full scope family medicine with obstetrics in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. She was the Assistant Chief of Medical Services for Primary Care at the Iron Mountain VAMC in Iron Mountain, Michigan. She was the Medical Clinic Coordinator at the Twin Ports VA Outpatient Clinic in Superior, Wisconsin. 


Academic medicine, preventive health, health promotion and education, women’s health, rural medicine


Research Summary/Interests

OB Longitudinal Experiences; Rural Medicine; Medical School Curriculum Development

Research Funding Grants

2011-16, HRSA, PI, "Rural Medical Scholars Program"


Pearson J, Westra R. Early course in obstetrics increases likelihood of practice including obstetrics. Fam Med. 2016;48(9):720-724.

Carlson S, Dresow B, Murugappan M, ...Westra R, Christensen R, et al. Impact of crisis prevention training on student confidence in patient encounters. Journal of Student-Run Clinics. 2016 Sep 30 [last modified: 2016 Sep 30]. Edition 1.

Westra R, Pearson J. Obstetrics Longitudinal Course. MedEdPORTAL Publications. 2016. Available at: Accessed October 25, 2016.

Zink T, Center B, Finstad D, Boulger JG, Repesh LA, Westra R, et al. Efforts to graduate more primary care physicians and physicians who will practice in rural areas: Examining outcomes from the University of Minnesota Duluth and Rural Physician Associate Program. Academic Medicine. 2010;85(4):599-604.

Westra R, Lange M, Vidor N. HOPE Clinic: Caring for the underserved. Minnesota Healthcare News. 2009;7(10):22-23.

Westra R, Lange M, Vidor N. HOPE Clinic: Caring for the underserved. Minnesota Physician. 2009;XXIII(3):1,12-13.

Elliott BA, Westra R. Reproductive health care in rural communities: Ethical considerations. In: Nelson WA, ed. Handbook for Rural Health Care Ethics: A Practical Guide for Professionals. Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College; 2009.



Course Director for Introduction to Rural Family Medicine & Native American Health Care 6420

Course Director Medical Education through Diversity and Service (MEDS) Elective

Course Director for Obstetrical Longitudinal Elective 6987

Course Director for Rural Academy of Leadership Elective

Clinical Course Director for Skin/Musculoskeletal Course

Clinical Course Director for Gi Course

Clinical Faculty for the Learning Community small group teaching in all course blocks including physical exam skills, physical diagnostic skills and simulation.

Clinical Faculty for Community Clinical Medicine (CCM) 6441/6442

Rural Physician Associate Program Faculty


Board Certifications

Board Certified, American Board of Osteopathic Family Physicians