AHECWW works with the University of Washington School of Medicine to coordinate a four-week, elective immersion experience for medical students. The program is called The Rural Underserved Opportunities Program (RUOP) and it places students between their first and second years of medical school in community medicine in rural or urban underserved communities throughout the WWAMI region (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho).

Students work in clinics and hospitals with preceptors experiencing their first extended clinical involvement. RUOP provides students with an early exposure to the challenges and rewards of working with rural and underserved communities and develops in students a positive attitude toward rural and urban underserved community medicine.

Teaching Activities

  • Along with expanding history-taking and physical exam skills, students participate in a full range of clinical activities. They experience what it is to be a physician.
  • Practicing doctors act as role models and provide clinical teaching that can shape students’ professional choices
  • Many RUOP students plan to combine their clinical work with a community medicine experience.

Students also complete a web-based community medicine course with UWSOM mentors.

  • They learn about the social determinants of health.
  • Assess the community for health strengths/challenges.

With the help of community partners, students develop and implement a health-related project. Examples of Student Projects include:

  • Designing patient education experiences such as forums on diabetes, hypertension, and other chronic or high interest topics.
  • Participating in community health fairs.
  • Providing health education offerings for coaches and school personnel; elders and other vulnerable populations.
  • Addressing community safety issues such as fireworks safety and gun safety.

The University of Washington School of Medicine Magazine featured the inspiring story of a similar program (called TRUST) in this video “Spurred to Succeed,” in spring 2018.

AHECWW recruits preceptors focusing on doctors in family medicine in rural clinics throughout western Washington during the winter. Medical students are matched with participating sites during the spring, and summer rotations begin in late June. Contact AHECWW for more information on how to become a preceptor: info@AHECWW.org.

Additional information about the preceptor role and responsibilities is detailed on the University of Washington School of Medicine website for the RUOP program.