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Summer Hoosier Rural Preceptorship

The SHRP Program began in 1993 under the direction of the Midwest Center for Rural Health, which became the Lugar Center for Rural Health in 2006, in partnership with Union Hospital’s Family Medicine Residency. Now, Union Hospital’s Richard G. Lugar Center partners with the West Central Area Health Education Center in the implementation of the Summer Hoosier Rural Preceptorship (SHRP). SHRP is a summer shadowing experience for medical students between their first and second years of medical school. The program hopes to promote interest in primary care medicine in rural underserved population by identifying medical students with an interest in underserved or rural practice, then allowing them the opportunity to gain experience in the provision of primary care services in clinical sites located in rural underserved communities. The program also aims to strengthen community-academic linkages and service-learning opportunities to facilitate understanding of the needs and cultures of rural communities.

SHRP participants will complete an eight week summer program with two week clinical rotations in rural underserved communities. The clinical sites for the program include rural physician practices, critical access hospitals, federally qualified health centers, as well as a family medicine residency clinic. The participants will rotate every two weeks to a different clinical site during the eight week program. After each rotation the participants are asked to provide feedback in the form of an evaluation of their clinical experience. Participants will also have the opportunity to attend the Indiana Rural Health Associations Annual Conference, where they will be able to attend different presentation pertaining to rural health.

The program was established due to the identified need of ensuring a rural healthcare workforce. The need is still prevalent with Indiana still facing a critical shortage of primary care clinicians. In Indiana there are 53.6 primary care physicians per 100,000 people, which is significantly lower than the national average of 90.5 per 100,000 people. This shortage is even more pronounced in Indiana’s rural communities with some rural regions having only 18 primary care clinicians per 100,000 people. Another contributing factor to the shortage or rural primary care physicians is that many of the rural physicians are nearing retirement, with 34% of all rural primary care clinicians 55 years of age and older. This demonstrated need does not even consider the projected need with the shift in primary care and medical homes among the ever changing healthcare landscape. Access to primary healthcare services is invaluable in preventing disease, improving health outcomes, and lowering the overall cost of health care, which contributes to the overall health of a community.

The SHRP program has shown success in promoting rural medicine. Eighty five percent of graduates of the Family Medicine Residency Program at Union Hospital, who previously completed SHRP, are practicing in rural underserved areas.

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