The mission of the Rural Medical Scholars Program (RMSP) is to produce physicians for rural Alabama who are leaders in developing healthy communities. Established in 1996, the program is open to college seniors and graduate students who plan to go to medical school and practice medicine in a rural area. The Rural Medical Scholars Program is a highly-selective pre-med and medical education program of The University of Alabama, the University of Alabama School of Medicine and the College, which also functions as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus for UASOM. As part of their RMSP pre-med experience, the scholars take graduate level courses, participate in farm field trips, shadow rural physicians, conduct or assist with health fairs and screenings or other community service projects and attend lectures and workshops pertaining to rural community health topics.
Ten qualified students from rural areas are chosen each year to enter the RMSP. Admission is based on high academic achievement, character, rural identity and leadership qualities. Eligible applicants have lived in a rural Alabama county for at least eight years and have taken or registered to take the MCAT. If selected, a Rural Medical Scholar is enrolled at The University of Alabama in the year prior to entry into medical school (UASOM) and takes coursework each semester related to rural health or the practice of primary care in rural areas and participates in special seminars, community service projects and field trips that demonstrate what a career in rural medicine entails. Provided the student meets the entrance requirements for admission to UASOM, he or she has a reserved slot in the next year’s class. After two years of study in Birmingham, Rural Medical Scholars return to the College for the final two years of medical school, their clinical training.
Rural Medical Scholars maintain peer support group activities, receive collegial support and mentorship from rural practitioners and receive continued administrative contact and support throughout medical training.
The RMSP has achieved national recognition as a leader in rural medical education. Strengths of the program include its established network of state and local partners, practicing physicians as mentors and a strong peer support group through classmates and those farther along the Rural Health Leaders Pipeline. With more than 15 years of experience, a consistent and accomplished faculty and a curriculum focused on rural community medicine, agromedicine topics and leadership in building healthy communities, RMSP offers rural Alabama students an encouraging and supportive environment in which to prepare for their future as rural primary care doctors.
Program RequirementsOnly Alabama residents are eligible for admission to the RMSP. The committee selects from eligible applicants based on academic and personal achievement and characteristics such as rural identity and commitment to career goals, teamwork orientation, self motivation and other qualities that predict applicants’ ability to become outstanding rural physicians.
Successful applicants generally have had a minimum 3.3 GPA and a composite MCAT score of 24 or higher with no sub-score below six (a guarantee of consideration for admission). Lower grade points are handled on case-by-case basis.
Provisional acceptance may be granted if an applicant meets all specified requirements except having scored the required minimum on MCAT.
No student will be matriculated into the University of Alabama School of Medicine without having earned a satisfactory MCAT score prior to matriculation.
- Rural Medical Scholars are medical school applicants from rural backgrounds who intend to practice primary care in rural and underserved areas.
- Applicants must have lived in a rural area of Alabama for no fewer than eight years. A rural area may be either a county outside of a standard metropolitan statistical area or a smaller area determined to be rural by rural physicians on the Rural Medical Scholars Program admission committee.
- Students who participated in the Rural Health Scholars Program receive preference in the selection process.
- Successful applicants will complete final year of undergraduate education or a year of graduate study at The University of Alabama prior to entry into the University of Alabama School of Medicine, which is headquartered in Birmingham. Exceptions will be made in special circumstances.
- Students maintain their academic standards by earning a minimum 3.2 GPA in their prematriculation year of course work at The University of Alabama. Any RMSP student who earns a grade of D or F in his/her year of study at UA will not be eligible for matriculation into the UASOM through the RMSP. These students may apply through the regular admissions process with all other applicants.