Before Vanessa Maycumber started her first year at the UW School of Medicine, she spent two weeks shadowing a family physician at Blackfeet Community Hospital in Browning, Mont.
While her soon-to-be peers were packing and spending time with friends, Maycumber was acquiring clinical experience, meeting the family physician who would be her preceptor, and learning about a community she would repeatedly return to over the course of her medical-school career.
The TRUST program
Maycumber is one of a select group of UW School of Medicine students who are part of a four-year-old program called TRUST (the Targeted Rural Underserved Track). TRUST offers a comprehensive curriculum, a support network and clinical experience for students interested in practicing rural medicine.
Started in Montana in 2008, the track is now also available for rural-focused students in Western and Eastern Washington, with plans to expand the program to Idaho and Alaska. Suzanne Allen, M.D., MPH, co-director of TRUST and vice dean for regional affairs, explains that TRUST’s aim is to increase the number of primary-care physicians working in rural or underserved areas.
“The notion was to create a special track… that would really encourage students to go into rural medicine,” says Allen.