Educational Affairs - Office of Clinical Education

Rural Health Scholarly Concentration

The Rural Health Scholarly Concentration (RHSC) provides opportunities that serve to expand existing curricular experiences that emphasize the practice of rural medicine throughout the 4 years of medical school. Students choose a rural community where they will complete multiple clerkships and strive to learn about the characteristics of the community and to develop partnerships within it. Upon identifying a health care challenge in the town, students will complete a project along with their community partner(s) to address/improve the focus of their choice. Additionally, students are offered a series of lectures to supplement their exposure to issues related to the practice of rural medicine (e.g. cultural identities, leadership skills, environmental toxicology, community partnerships, etc.). UTMB-sponsored electives offering a rural medicine theme are also available for students to complete. Upon successful completion of the program, students are recognized as "Scholars in Rural Health" on their transcripts and at commencement.

Goals of the Scholarly Concentration

The Rural Health Care Scholarly Concentration (RHSC) at UTMB exists to provide an expanded learning experience focused on needs specific to medically underserved rural communities. The Scholarly Concentration provides a comprehensive range of experiences to support development of student competencies in these areas. The practice of rural medicine requires adaptation to multiple roles, knowledge about resource utilization specific to the rural setting, and an explicit ability to integrate a public health perspective into a rural practice. The learner will therefore complete Scholarly Concentration requirements involving issues specific to a rural community (e.g. cultural issues, characteristics of the medical infrastructure) and develop specialty skills required to provide health care within a rural community.


In order to successfully complete all RHSC certificate requirements and graduate as a Rural Scholar, the student will:

  • Attend 16 RHSC meetings during the 4 years in medical school
    • It is best to attend most (or all) of these in first 2 years
  • Complete 4 clinical rotations in a rural setting
    • Preclinical preceptorships (in between 1st and 2nd year)
    • Clerkships (3rd year) conducted in rural areas
    • Electives and Selectives conducted in rural areas
  • Complete the RHSC capstone project - BSHS 4402

While completing these requirements, the student will succeed in doing the following...

  • Learn clinical competencies to effectively serve as a physician within a rural community
  • Participate in a lecture series and training events designed to provide insight and experience in areas specific to rural medicine
  • Develop knowledge and understanding through coursework, preceptorships, and community service focused on the physician's unique civic role in a rural community (e.g. leadership, public health advocacy, education, social group interaction)
  • Dedicate an extended portion of off-campus clerkship enrollment at a single community site to foster continuity of clinical care, office management/health care provider insight, and community culture experience.
  • Complete a long-term scholarly project aimed at providing an intervention to serve the health care needs of a target rural community.

Meeting dates and speakers for 2023-2024
All meeting times are from 12pm - 1pm on the third Wednesday of each month between Sept. 2023 and April 2024.

  1. September 20, 2023 - Oscar "Skip" Brown, MD
    • An introduction to UTMB's RHSC and the requirements needed to graduate as a Rural Scholar.
  2. October 18, 2023 - Kristy D. Edwards, MD, CWS-P, FAAFP
    •  Dr. Edwards is the Director for Texas A&M's Shannon Family Medicine Residency Program in San Angelo, TX which is set to start accepting Residents in 2024.  Dr. Edwards will meet with us to introduce this new rural residency program in Texas.
  3. November 15, 2023 - J. Patrick Walker, MD
    • Dr. Walker is a current UTMB surgeon who used to live and practice in rural East Texas.
  4. December 20, 2023 - Jorge A. Duchicela, MD 
    • Dr. Duchicela is a Family Medicine physician in Weimar, TX.   A long-time friend to UTMB's Rural Health Scholarly Concentration, Dr. Duchicela has spoken to the RHSC every year since it's inception about his career as a rural FM physician.
  5. January 17, 2024 - TBD
    • TBD
  6. February 21, 2024 - TBD
    • TBD
  7. March 20, 2024 - TBD
    • TBD
  8. April 17, 2024 - Aubrey Gibbs, MD and Cecilia Drennen, MD
    • Dr. Drennen is a 2018 UTMB graduate and graduated as a Rural Scholar.  Dr. Gibbs was her Pediatric preceptor during Dr. Drennen's 3rd and 4th years of medical school.  Dr. Drennen now works alongside Dr. Gibbs as a physician in their clinic in Paris, TX.  This is a true success story for UTMB's RHSC.

    Video Lectures from RHSC monthly luncheons

    Did you miss one of the luncheons? Visit this page to view the video of past luncheon lectures. You must attend the lecture to get RHSC credit, but you can always come here to review any of the RHCT luncheon lectures.

    FAQs about UTMB's Rural Healthcare Scholarly Concentration

    Trying to decide if the RHSC is right for you? Visit this page for answers to commonly asked questions about the Rural Healthcare Scholarly Concentration.

    Rural Health Care Links

    Visit this page to learn about the different types of healthcare facilities in rural areas. You will also find links to organizations that offer funding and expertise to improve access to care in the rural areas of Texas.

    Rural Health Care Scholarly Concentration Contacts

    Director: Oscar "Skip" Brown, MD
    Coordinator: Brian M. Sullivan