Rural Residency

An important part of choosing a residency program is how they’re categorized, especially as they relate to rural. Factors include:

  • Location, specifically, the number of rural months
  • Capacity (residency positions per year)
  • Scope of training
  • Outcomes

Scope of practice training is program specific and depends on:

  • Needs of the community served
  • Presence or absence of specialists
  • Skill set and experience of program faculty

What is a “1-2” RTT?

A “1-2” Rural Training Track is an educational method generally characterized by one year of medical residency training in an urban environment, followed by two years of residency in a rural environment. There are currently no “1-2” RTTs in any specialty other than family medicine.

Why This Approach?

A “1-2” RTT allows a new physician the opportunity to first train in a resource-rich urban center, followed by training in a relationship-rich rural community. This combination effectively prepares health care providers for challenges commonly faced when practicing medicine in rural regions, while providing additional support during residency.

Because of its unique approach, a “1-2” RTT provides more comprehensive learning opportunities than training solely in either location. While some traditional family medicine residency programs are a major pipeline for rural physicians, physicians completing RTT family medicine residencies are even more likely to practice in rural areas. RTTs are an important tool in addressing physician shortages in rural areas.

Programs are difficult to define by “rural focus,” since this phrase is used inconsistently and defies strict definition, similar to use of the terms “organic” or “low-fat” in the food industry. Students are encouraged to ask about program outcomes when researching residency options. You can find some starter questions on the Questions to Ask page.