The use of rural training tracks (RTTs) in family practice residencies is a new strategy (beginning in the late 1980s) to increase the number of residents selecting rural careers. The authors describe the four residencies (in Washington, Nebraska, New York, and Kentucky) that have established RTTs. The first residency year is completed in an urban tertiary care center, and the second and third years are completed in a distant rural community wherein the primary faculty are the members of a rural family practice group. Inpatient experience for the residents is provided by community hospitals that offer obstetrics, emergency room care, and first-line critical care. The residents’ training is supplemented by specialty faculty practicing in the rural communities. The curricula are highly structured and are evaluated to ensure training experiences of high quality. The RTTs’ financial support comes from state initiatives, hospital reimbursement, recruitment budgets, and outpatient care revenues. The authors conclude that the RTT concept has the potential to lessen the shortage of rural physicians.
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