Rural Health Course

MEDI 296, the Rural Health Elective, is an elective for second year medical students that draws on clinical experiences at the Bloomer Hill People’s Clinic, a free clinic in Whitakers, North Carolina. The purpose of this elective is to provide primary care to a population of patients in rural eastern North Carolina, discuss topics and diseases that are frequently seen in rural primary care clinics, and critically reflect on experiences at the Bloomer Hill clinic and surrounding community.  The class meets once a month, usually on a Wednesday at noon following the Bloomer Hill Clinic.

There are five major requirements for this course:

1) class attendance
2) attendance at six clinics from June 2012 through May 2013
3) one in-class topic presentation
4) a service-learning journal
5) health topic presentation given at clinic to patients as well as practice presentation given in class

Attendance is mandatory for all sessions. More detail on course requirements is provided below.

In-class topic presentations

At each class meeting, one or two students will give a talk on the topic of the month.  Topics include common concerns in primary care medicine. The course syllabus includes a list of topics and related readings.  All students should read the core readings on a topic prior to class, and presenting students should also review the supplemental readings.  At the beginning of the fall semester, students will have an opportunity to sign up for topics and dates.

Presentations should be approximately 15 minutes, and students should prepare a handout or slides for their presentation.  The content of presentations should be clinically relevant, focusing on what a clinician needs to know to effectively manage patients in the clinical setting, rather than on details of pathophysiology.  Students should address any important health disparities that affect the Bloomer Hill patient population, cost of care and barriers to appropriate care for uninsured patients, local resources available in or near the Bloomer Hill community, and suggestions for improving care at the Bloomer Hill clinic.  Students are encouraged to submit their slides or handouts to Drs. Ashkin and Gilchrist a few days prior to class for feedback.

Service Learning Journal
The journal should consist of 10 entries, each 1-2 pages in length. The content should reflect your experience working in clinic and the Bloomer Hill community. One entry per semester should be a SOAP note about a patient you interviewed in the clinic. Patient names or identifiers should not be used in journal entries.  Examples of topics include:

  • What does community service mean to me?
  • What are the root factors leading to the common illnesses we see in clinic?
  • What are the special challenges of working in a rural health clinic?
  • One complete SOAP note

The first half of the journal will be due by the January 13 class and the second half of the journal will be due by the final class of the semester.  Journals should be submitted by email to Drs. Ashkin and Gilchrist.  A link to a few examples of good journal entries that students have submitted in the past is provided on the course website.

Community-based Events

For students who are interested in attempting to have a greater impact in the community, individuals or groups of students can carry out a community health promotion project.  Examples of past projects include organizing screenings for diabetic retinopathy or kidney disease, teaching classes in topics such as cooking and nutrition, advanced directives, falls prevention, organ donation or sexual health to Bloomer Hill clinic patients or clients of other local agencies, conducting blood pressure or blood glucose screenings at local churches, and organizing an exercise group among Bloomer Hill patients.


Pages of Interest

Syllabus (with detailed class topics)

Information about Health Disparities

Detailed Schedule

Operational Manuals

Example Journal Entries


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