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Rural Medical & Science Scholars

Filed Under:
Publication Number: M1917
Updated: November 30, 2017
View as PDF: M1917.pdf
Mississippi has the lowest number of physicians per capita in the nation, limiting access to healthcare and public health services. Clearly, this limited access to care for our citizens contributes to many of the negative health status indicators plaguing the state. It also fails to capitalize on the ability of healthcare to serve as an economic driver within our communities.
Since 1998, the Rural Medical & Science Scholars program has been focused on “growing local docs” and other healthcare professionals by identifying rising high school seniors and exposing them to healthcare careers. Scholars complete 1 month of pre-medicine college coursework, shadow healthcare providers, and attend educational workshops. Scholars continue to graduate from medical school, complete residency training, enter private practice—especially in primary care—and remain in Mississippi
The addition of one physician to a community contributes an average of $2 million in additional economic output and an average of 21 new jobs
Rural Medical & Science Scholars helps high school seniors determine if they want to pursue health-related careers and has been successful in shaping students’ interest in medicine, health-related disciplines, and other STEM fields. 
The program will continue to focus on “growing local docs” but will offer additional experiences to help broaden a knowledge base in STEM careers and opportunities in the healthcare field. The expansion of the program’s vision will help ensure a strong and passionate workforce for the long-term goals of improving access to healthcare and improving Mississippi’s economy. 

For additional information, please visit

Images of doctors interacting with Rural Medical Scholar students.

The Rural Medical Scholars program ran from 1998 to 2007, was not offered in 2008 or 2009 due to lack of funding, but was reinstated and ran from 2010 to 2016. In 2017, it will again be offered, funded primarily by the MSU Extension Service with some assistance from the State Office of Rural Health.

Rural Medical & Science Scholars Alumni Give Back

Numerous Scholars have given back to the program over the years. They have served as summer counselors and tutors, and assisted with promotional efforts in their communities. The physician pictured to the left was a 2003 Scholar and served as a counselor for two summers during his college years. While serving as chief resident at one of the clinics where the Scholars shadowed, he was able to share knowledge with fellow Scholars in pursuit of similar goals.

Program Successes

  • 387 students have participated in the RMS program.
  • Scholars have come from 66 of the state’s 82 counties.
  • 26% of participants have been minorities.
  • 60% of participants are female, and 40% are male.
  • Approximately 71% of our graduates have gone on to pursue health-related careers.
  • 41 have gone to medical school.
  • 35 are practicing physicians (residency or private practice) as of today.
    • 28 in primary care
    • 12 in Mississippi
  • Others are pursuing careers in nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, counseling, physical or occupational therapy, medical research, public health, or STEM-related careers in mechanical, biological, or chemical engineering, technology, or math.
  • Physicians in Starkville, Columbus, West Point, and Tupelo voluntarily participate in the program by providing weekly shadowing experiences for the Scholars.
    • More than 100 physicians have participated since the program began.
    • Each year, 30 to 50 participate.

The Rural Medical & Science Scholars program ran from 1998 to 2007,was not offered in 2008 or 2009 due to lack of funding, but was reinstated and ran from 2010 to 2017. In 2018, it will again be offered with support from the Mississippi State University Extension Service, MSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care.

Rural Medical & Science Scholars:
A program for Mississippi—its citizens and its communities.

For additional information, please visit our Rural Medical & Science Scholars page.

M1917 (150-09-17)

Contact Your County Office


Extension Instructor
Rural Medical Scholars Program Director/Community Health Coordinator

Your Extension Experts

Assistant Professor
State Health Specialist
Extension Instructor
Rural Medical Scholars Program Director/Community Health Coordinator

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