Frequently Asked Questions

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What is RMSP?

The Rural Medical Scholars Program (RMSP) is designed to identify, recruit and nurture those students interested in future rural practice, by offering community-based clinical training in small town hospitals and practices across NYS. Most applicants apply during the admissions process, while others elect into the program once established in the College of Medicine at SUNY Upstate. Students complete elective coursework throughout their fours years at SUNY Upstate. Elective courses included Introduction to Rural Health (MS1-2), Immersion Week (summer before MS2), and Rural Medical Education Program (MS3-4).

What is RMED?

The Rural Medical Education Program (RMED) provides an alternative third year medical training experience. Students from both the Syracuse and Binghamton campuses complete three (out of eight) required clinical rotations (Family Medicine, Emergency and Surgery), along with elective time (4-12 weeks) with board-certified physicians in small town communities throughout the region.

How did the program start?

Placement of medical students in rural communities began in the 1960s with support of the Edward John Noble Foundation. In the 1970s and 1980s students spent a week with a Family Practitioner during the spring semester. Many students chose practitioners in a rural community. In 1989, Upstate started the nationally acclaimed RMED Program, which extended a rural learning experience for medical students while completing their clinical rotations. In 2007, with a goal of doubling the number of students in the RMED Program, we incorporated into an expanded structure to provide recruitment and preclinical support. The extended program is called Rural Medical Scholars Program (RMSP) for MS1’s and MS2’s. RMED remains the clinical placement program for medical students.

What makes RMSP special?

RMSP allows SUNY Upstate to focus on their mission of providing excellent health care providers to our NYS communities by identifying, recruiting and nurturing local talent. We provide pre-clinical education that emphasizes the importance of community-based medicine that focuses on the unmet needs of the medically underserved communities across NYS. We also provide clinical training, through our RMED program, that ensures students the opportunity to train with local community preceptors and engage in small town life.

What makes RMED special?

MS3 students are provided individualized, hands-on training with board certified, community based attendings while they live and train in host communities across NYS. Students perform in roles they otherwise might not experience until residency. For example, they often assist in surgery, perform and read scans with radiologists, conduct in-depth case discussions, and confer one-on-one with specialists. They learn the practice of medicine through a more specialized and individualized approach. The rural med team assigns students to host communities taking into consideration students’ needs, interests, and academic performance. Many students opt to live and train in their hometowns. Host communities typically provide housing for students, either in the form of a hospital-owned house or apartment. Some host communities provide a scholarship.

Who chooses the program?

Rural medicine students tend to be mature, self-starters who learn best in one-on-one relationships with faculty and patients. Rural med students are able to create flexible programs that emphasize their own educational interests.

Is the program only for those interested in practicing primary care medicine? No. On the contrary, 30% of rural med students do not enter primary care medicine. However, they find the program supports their interest in specialties such as: otolaryngology, orthopedics, radiology, ophthalmology, urology, anesthesiology, geriatrics, emergency medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics and psychiatry.