Immersion program gives students rural medical experience in Sedalia

Students at the MU School of Medicine and Sinclair School of Nursing gained a new appreciation of rural medicine in a 11-day trip to Sedalia.

Bingyue Zhang

Bingyue Zhang

Aug. 9, 2021

Bingyue Zhang experienced a culture shock at age 17 when she moved from Jinan, China, to Lawson, Missouri. She came to appreciate the small Midwestern town and its people and even decided she would like to help them one day as a doctor.

Now a rising second-year student at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, Zhang was one of 24 students who gained real-world experience for practicing in a rural area through the Clinical Rural Immersion (CRI) program. Students from the MU School of Medicine, MU’s Sinclair School of Nursing and the UMKC School of Pharmacy recently spent time working in Sedalia.

“I knew nothing about farming and farm safety before this program, and I learned all about equipment safety hazards and the dangers that come with each season,” Zhang said. “It was an eye-opening experience.”

The CRI gives students an opportunity to experience rural communities together and enhance each other’s perspectives. “Research shows that the more exposure medical students have with a rural practice, the more likely they are to return to a rural practice,” said Sheila Marushak, senior program and project coordinator for the Rural Track Pipeline Program.

The CRI, which is a part of the MU School of Medicine’s Rural Scholars Program, began last year and was made possible by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration. The Rural Scholars Program is helping future health care leaders such as Zhang to learn about rural medicine to improve Missouri’s ongoing rural doctor shortage.

“I think this program is an important opportunity for anyone interested in rural medicine to have the chance to see what that is like day to day,” said Zhang.

Read more from the School of Medicine

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