Rural Outreach Initiative
Rural citizens face a unique combination of economic, social, educational, and geographic factors that create disparities in health care and isolation from health-related resources. The Rural Outreach Initiative (ROI) at Tulane University School of Medicine, a new, top strategic priority of the Dean of the School of Medicine, is a comprehensive plan to address community health needs in rural areas of Louisiana and make a positive difference in both the alarming dearth of physicians and the poor health indicators found in rural Louisiana.
Initial activities will include expanded contact between Tulane and the communities through medical education programs; identification of local physicians to become clinical faculty for clinical rotations in these sites; projects to assist communities with targeted public health priorities and needs; support of clinical needs through referral services; and physician workforce development including recruitment of future medical students from rural areas.
ROI recognizes that one of the most significant ways of improving the number of physicians practicing in rural communities is by encouraging and supporting the “workforce pipeline”. Partnerships with colleges such as Nicholls State and Louisiana College allow students to apply for early admission to Tulane School of Medicine. In the Fall of 2008 the Dean created two full scholarships for medical students who come from rural Louisiana communities and want to practice in rural communities.
The TRuMEd program is another way interested students can focus their academic education in rural medicine.
ROI has worked to expand the current rural clerkship options available to students to include new sites and preceptors in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, OB/GYN, Psychiatry and General Surgery. These clerkships will give students an opportunity to have one-on-one experiences with physicians, have more of a hands on way of learning, develop a strong relationship with the physician, and community, have experience practicing in different cultures and with different cases.
ROI has been developing relationships with rural Louisiana communities to support its battle in improving the populations’ health. Joining forces with the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine we serve on steering committees, help create programs, aide in grant writing, provide our academic capabilities to the community physicians, perform assessments, as well as any other level of involvement the community finds beneficial for their needs.