Dr. Jay Perman, the dean, told The Daily Independent of Ashland, "If we give (students) a rich clinical experience in the opportunities they'll have in a rural practice, they'll be more likely to return there." Mike James writes for the Independent that "Teachers and mentors will come largely from the rural medicine environment and will serve as role models."
"Kentucky has fewer doctors per capita than the national average, according to an October report by the Kentucky Institute of Medicine," Vos writes. The state averages 213.5 doctors per 100,000 residents compared to the U.S. average of 267.9 per 100,000. Perman said the ratio is even worse in rural areas. About 43 percent of Kentucky residents are rural, but less than a quarter of the state's doctors practice in rural areas, Perman estimates.
In 2005, the University of Colorado-Denver School of Medicine began a rural track that had 90 applicants this year and provides "hands-on training earlier than other medical students, and they spend a month each semester helping doctors in rural communities," reports Denver's 9News. Mark Deutchman, the program's director and an M.D., said only 10 percent of physicians practice in rural areas though 20 percent of Americans are rural. "A lot of time, through the four years spent at an academic health center, (the) interest in rural medicine kind of goes away, and we're trying to keep that spark alive," he told 9News. Jack Berry, a program volunteer who had a rural practice for many years, said, "If you can help people understand that really rural medicine is the place that's the most fun, even now, they're gonna stay with it."