Rural Rotations for Medical Students

Medical Student Rotations

Most medical schools, even those without an explicit rural track, allow students to spend weeks or months in a rural location of their choice. And many RTTs welcome student rotations from accredited US medical schools, both allopathic and osteopathic.

For example, you may want to do ER, OB, Surgery or Family Medicine electives, or even a sub-internship in a rural training track residency, possibly at a program where you are considering doing residency training. These are valuable learning opportunities and your school should allow you to do an away rotation, provided legal and accreditation requirements can be met.

Some important thoughts to keep in mind for rotations at a rural residency program are:

  • Most residency applications are due in October or November
  • If you are doing a rotation as a way of acquainting yourself with a specific residency program, these rotations should be done in the first six months of the fourth year, before the residency interviewing season is completed
  • Many programs may allow you to complete your interview for residency while you are there on rotation, economizing on your time and travel
  • September and October tend to be the most popular months to schedule these rotations
  • Check that your chosen residency program accommodates such rotations and has availability for a rotation that matches your schedule
  • Know what forms you need to provide and work with the residency coordinator and your own medical schools office tasked with overseeing away rotations

Even if a rural residency program does not have a formal listing of rotation opportunities, feel free to contact the programs and ask what rotations are possible.

A key point is to immediately begin your planning process once you decide to do an away rotation. Rural rotations can also be arranged with individual physicians or group practices, and financial assistance may be available through the SEARCH program in your state.

For international medical graduates desiring to participate in a rural rotation, it is important to note that many of these rotations may not be available to you, simply because of malpractice difficulties and because of policies from the larger training programs with which the RTTs are affiliated. You are encouraged to send an email of enquiry to the contact listed on the residency site, and if you get no response, don’t be discouraged. As a previous program director, I know that the sheer number of such requests can be daunting to programs. You are encouraged to at least apply for residency through ERAS, since most of these programs do accept applicants from international schools.

See a listing of “1-2” RTT residency programs and potential rotation sites
Visit the National Health Service Corps website for a directory of SEARCH programs