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"Physicians go where they are welcomed,
remain where they are respected,
and grow where they are nurtured."
- Bill Leaver

Focus on Kansas: Office of Rural
Medical Education at KUMC

Contributed by Michael Kennedy, MD, FAAFP
Professor, Family Medicine
Associate Dean and McCann Professor for Rural Health Education

SUNFLOWER HEALTH NETWORK In 2007 the University of Kansas School of Medicine (KU-SOM)

Rural Medicine Opportunities established the Office of Rural Medical Education (ORME).

Spring 2016 Initially, rural programs at KU-SOM were administered through

the Office of Medical Education. It was felt at the time by the

Executive Dean and the Senior Associate Dean that rural

programming in the SOM needed a renewed focus and therefore

a separate division. With a recently named Associate Dean for

Rural Health Education, the mission of ORME is to give students Dr. Michael Kennedy, M.D., FAAFP
a comprehensive understanding of the opportunity to practice

rewarding, high quality health care for rural Kansans, by fostering educational experiences in rural

settings for students throughout their curriculum.

KU-SOM has a significant national reputation for rural programming and primary care since it began. A
primary mission is training doctors for Kansas. This mission reached national attention in 1949 when
Franklin D. Murphy, the Dean of the Medical School at the time, formed the “Kansas Plan”. The
program addressed dire physician workforce shortages in rural Kansas. He established the
requirement that all KU medical students spend time in rural primary care practices learning to care
for patients. Initially the program sent students for a 12 week preceptorship. The national press was
filled with articles about the idea. This program, now called the Rural Preceptorship, still runs today
for all senior medical students, but it is currently 4 weeks in duration. Students continue to return
from this experience with praise about the work that rural physicians do for their communities and a
new admiration for the potential of a practice life in rural primary care.

But, while the program is very popular, it is too late in the educational experience to provide a
significant influence in decisions about residency and specialty selection. Several studies have shown
that early frequent exposures to rural practice have a greater influence. KU-SOM recognized this and
in the 1990’s established several programs for rural medicine and primary care through the Primary
Care Physician Education (PCPE) grant from the Kansas Health Foundation. Since that time there are
several rural programs that have developed and are now run through ORME.

Special Edition: Training for a Career in Rural Medicine
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