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Welcome to the Rural Track

Message from the Director:
Hello, I’m Dr. Mark Deutchman, Director of the University of Colorado School of Medicine’s Rural Track. The Rural Track was founded in 2005 with the goal of increasing the number of physicians who enter and remain in practice in rural Colorado. In rural medicine, you will be truly needed and appreciated. You can have a rich, varied, rewarding professional and personal lifestyle. From the plains to the mountains, our state offers a wealth of incredibly varied opportunities. The Rural Track can help you prepare by providing extra knowledge, skills and attitudes with a group of supportive, like-minded students and faculty.

Frequently Asked Questions


 What is a “track” in the School of Medicine?

A track is a set of extracurricular activities that extends through multiple semesters and three or more years of medical school on a longitudinal basis. A track focuses on general areas of interest that lie outside the scope of any specific clinical specialty. Examples include the Rural Track, CU-UNITE, LEADS Track, and Research Track. Participation in a track is NOT required of all students. Tracks often involve activity outside of the regular SOM schedule, particularly during the summer between Phases I and II and during the inter-sessions of Phases III and IV. Tracks do not add additional semesters or years to medical school, unless specifically stated.


 What is the goal of the Rural Track?

The Rural Track was the first track established in the School of Medicine, and has become a model for other tracks.  The purpose of the Rural Track is to provide mentorship, additional knowledge, broadened skills and rural life experiences that will support and encourage interest in rural practice. The ultimate goal of the track is to increase the number of CU medical school graduates who eventually enter and remain in practice in rural Colorado. 


 What is the curriculum of the Rural Track?

The general components of the Rural Track curriculum include:

  • Students who have been admitted to the Rural Track are invited to participate in a weeklong Interdisciplinary Rural Immersion experience the summer before school starts.
  • During Phases I and II, a variety of lectures, labs, and workshops are held several times a month that will help interpret and bring a rural focus to what students are learning in their regular courses.
  • Between Phases I and II, MD students have the opportunity to participate in a 3 to 8 week paid, Summer Rural Preceptorship.
  • In Phase III, all MD students are required to complete a 4 week rural and community care rotation; however, Rural Track students have the opportunity to complete a 12 week rural Integrated Longitudinal Medicine Clerkship.
  • The SOM curriculum includes a scholarly activity requirement. Students are not required to complete this project on a rural-related topic, but are offered mentorship and support from Rural Track faculty.
  • Information on scholarship and loan repayment programs is provided.
  • The Rural Track continually works on forming links with the rural Colorado communities that are recruiting for new physicians and our "pipeline” of physicians-in-training.

 How do I apply?

The Colorado secondary application to the standard AMCAS application permits one to submit an application specific to the Rural Track in addition to the general application to the School of Medicine. One must have a complete application to the regular MD Program to be considered for the Rural Track.

Students who wish to be considered for the Rural Track must submit an additional essay on this topic on the Colorado secondary application: “Describe your experience in and commitment to rural Colorado and your vision of working as a primary care physician in rural Colorado.”

Invitations for interviews are based on overall academic record, MCAT scores, etc. Applicants who are invited to interview with the School of Medicine and appear to be a strong candidate for the Rural Track will be invited to meet with a key faculty member to discuss their background and interests. This meeting typically takes place the day before the School of Medicine interview. Applicants are reviewed for participation in the Rural Track based on their interest in practicing medicine in rural Colorado. Decisions on acceptance to the MD program and the Rural Track are made independently.

Please contact the Rural Track Program Coordinator if you are an MD applicant with questions about the Rural Track.

Physician Assistant students are invited to apply to the Rural Track shortly after entering the CHA/PA program. Applications are reviewed by members of the CHA/PA faculty. Visit the CHA/PA website for additional information.


 What are the requirements of the Rural Track?

Students in the Rural Track are expected to fully participate in all track activities. During the academic year, most activities take place on Wednesdays from 1-3pm during designated track/elective time.  The majority of Rural Track MD students participate in a 4-week rural preceptorship experience between Phase I and II and the Integrated Longitudinal Medicine Clerkship in Phase III; however, these experiences are not required to continue participation in the Rural Track.

All Rural Track students are required to participate in annual surveys throughout their duration in the track and after graduation as a requirement to being accepted in to the track. The faculty and staff work diligently to minimize the burden of the evaluation process on track participants. The evaluation process is integral to the track’s ability to demonstrate short and long-term outcomes to both the University and program funders.


 How many students are accepted per class?

Between 15 and 20 MD students and 5 PA students are admitted into each Rural Track cohort.


 Are there additional fees or tuition to participate in the Rural Track?

No. The general operation expenses for the Rural Track have been covered thanks to generous contributions from the School of Medicine Dean’s Office, The Colorado Trust, The Colorado Health Foundation, Caring for Colorado, Anschutz Family Foundation, and private individuals. We are also working on building a Rural Track endowment to ensure long-term sustainability of the program.


 Are there any scholarships specifically for Rural Track students?

No, there are no scholarships automatically awarded to Rural Track students.  However, many students in the Rural Track qualify for various scholarships offered by the School of Medicine. We also have partnerships with hospitals in Montrose, Walsenburg, and Lamar that offer scholarships for students interested in practicing in these areas after training. We are always looking to expand these “home-grown scholarship” opportunities for students.


 How do I continue rural-oriented training after medical school?

We anticipate that Rural Track MD students will become ideal candidates for those residencies with the broadest scopes of practice and the best reputations for producing successful rural physicians. Physicians in greatest demand in rural areas are those with broad-based primary care skills, especially graduates of Family Medicine residencies. Physicians who complete General Internal Medicine, General Pediatrics, General Surgery, and Emergency Medicine residencies may also be suited to practice in some rural areas.  For those applying to medical school now, residency and practice may seem a long way off, but we believe that the experiences of the Rural Track will make our graduates sought-after candidates for the best residencies. Visit Colorado Family Medicine Residencies for more information.



Contact Info:

Mark Deutchman, MD
Director, Rural Track
Phone: 303.724.9725
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Melanie DeHerrera
Program Coordinator, Rural Track
Phone: 303.724.0340