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MU School of Medicine receives funding for expanding rural health programs

Dr. Haval Shirwan (left) and Dr. Esma Yolcu (right)
MU Health Care
Dr. Haval Shirwan (left) and Dr. Esma Yolcu (right) of the University of Missouri School of Medicine work on research.

The University of Missouri announced the MU School of Medicine has received $16 million dollars in federal grant funding this week. It's from the Health Resources and Services Administration to expand programs that bring more doctors to rural Missouri.

The funding is designed to address a shortage of primary care physicians in rural Missouriand will go toward expanding the MU Rural Scholars Program, growing mobile simulation training programs and providing scholarships.

Kathleen Quinn, an associate dean for rural health at MU School of Medicine, said the scholarships will aim to offset debt from medical school, which can push doctors away from pursuing careers in rural primary care.

“There's a lot of debt going to medical school, and many times students might choose a higher paying specialty. Well, we really need primary care physicians in these rural communities,” Quinn said.

Currently, MU Rural Scholars offers rural immersion and elective programs, community programs and a pre-admission program to encourage people from rural backgrounds to pursue medical school. Quinn said the funding will help expand these programs, which rely on partnerships with 10 partner hospitals around the state to give students hands-on experience in rural medicine.

“Over the course of a student's medical school career, they have the opportunity to spend multiple longitudinal time periods within a rural community. And we hope that those experiences encourage and influence them to practice in a community of need,” Quinn said.

In the face of recent rural hospital closures and a shortage of primary care physicians across the state, Quinn said programs like MU Rural Scholars are especially important to push doctors toward primary care and close the growing gap in Missouri.

“We really want them to get immersed in rural communities so they understand the issues that they will not only face, but also be able to impact once they're in a career,” Quinn said.

Anna Spidel is a health reporter for the KBIA Health & Wealth desk. A proud Michigander, Anna hails from Dexter, Michigan and received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Michigan State University in 2022. Previously, she worked with member station Michigan Radio as an assistant producer on Stateside.
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