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Federal grant to train more primary care physicians for rural areas


Kentucky medical school scores $16 million to enhance, develop programs.

© University of Louisville

University of Louisville medical students participate in a Compassion Clinic at Redeemer Lutheran Church in West Louisville. The university's School of Medicine announced a new $16 million federal grant for its programs to train primary care physicians for rural and underserved areas of Kentucky.
© University of Louisville

Medical leaders hope a $16 million grant will help guide more physicians into primary care in rural Kentucky.

The University of Louisville (UofL) School of Medicine announced it will use a four-year grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration to enhance its programs that train medical students in underserved rural areas. The school will assist people in other careers who want to pursue medicine, create a program for urban training, and provide scholarships for medical students.

“Students tend to practice what they are taught and where they learn it. Our idea is to enhance our training programs with a focus on improving their educational experience in primary care, particularly in underserved communities,” project leader Kelli Bullard Dunn said in a news release. Dunn is vice dean of community engagement and diversity for the UofL School of Medicine.

UofL touted its School of Medicine Trover Campus, which started in 1998 to increase the number of physicians practicing in rural areas. The campus is located in Madisonville, Kentucky, hosted by Baptist Health Deaconess Madisonville. UofL’s Trover Rural Track has graduated 170 physicians, with 75% of them practicing primary care and 43% practicing in rural communities.

UofL also has family medicine residencies in Glasgow and Owensboro, Kentucky.

The Trover Rural Track will be a model for a new urban training program for medical students in West Louisville.

“At the UofL School of Medicine, we are in a unique position in that not only do we serve rural parts of the state, but we have an urban, underserved core right in our backyard,” Dunn said. “We would like to take what we have learned from the Trover Campus and replicate part or all of that in the urban environment here in West Louisville and other underserved areas.”

UofL also will further develop its Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program, which prepares people with bachelor’s degrees in other fields to enter medical school. Since the program started in 2009, 114 students have completed it, with 98% accepted into medical school and 35% of them completing residency programs in primary care.

The medical school aims to recruit more students from medically underserved areas and who will practice in those areas.

“Kentucky has a severe shortage of health care providers,” according to UofL. At least part of 113 counties, of 120 total, are designated Health Professional Shortage Areas, and the state is ranked low for projections of primary care physicians by 2025.

“The UofL School of Medicine is honored to have been selected as a recipient of the HRSA grant and is committed to creating pathways that support workforce development for primary care careers in medically underserved regions,” UofL School of Medicine Interim Dean Jeffrey Bumpous said in the news release. Bumpous is the school’s vice president of medical affairs. “University leaders recognize the projects and programs supported by this funding are critical to the institutional mission of both the university and the School of Medicine and aim to sustain the efforts beyond the four-year term.”

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