Medical Student Completing Clinical Training Through Rural Student Physician Program

5/09/2023 - Galesburg, Illinois

  • Ethan Meeker, Rural Student Physician Program

PEORIA, IL – Ethan Meeker, a third-year medical student at the University Of Illinois College Of Medicine Peoria (UICOMP) is completing a 24-week clinical training experience at OSF St. Mary in Galesburg.


As a student in the Rural Student Physician Program (RSPP), Meeker trains in a rural community learning one-on-one with physician mentors while gaining a deep understanding and appreciation for rural, primary care medicine. Through close, apprentice-like supervision, UICOMP medical students accepted into the program gain more opportunities for knowledge growth and skill acquisition.


Students in RSPP experience an immersive and integrated approach to primary care medicine, which encompasses pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, internal medicine, psychiatry, general surgery, and family medicine during the rural learning experience.


In the US, 20 percent of the population lives in rural areas whereas only 10 percent of physicians practice in rural areas. While the need for rural physicians is great, the reward to practice in rural communities is even greater, says James Barnett, MD, director of RSPP. “Our students experience first-hand the gratification of providing a continuum of care to patients in rural communities,” Barnett says. “In addition, rural physicians are very much a part of the community where they not only provide care but they contribute as leaders and neighbors.”


Dr. Andy Peterson, physician mentor, volunteered to be a clinical site because of the attending physicians who helped him during his years of training.  “I think it is important for doctors to continue to help mold and be a role model for students as they progress through their medical education,” Peterson says. “I also think it’s important for medical students to get experience practicing medicine in rural communities. Having students spend time in rural communities hopefully encourages them to consider a rural community when they are finished with training and starting their practice.”


RSPP is open only to medical students at UICOMP, and a limited number of admissions is granted annually through a competitive application and interview process.


The University Of Illinois College Of Medicine Peoria (UICOMP) educates 265 medical students and more than 300 physician residents and fellows annually. Additionally, it provides clinical care to more than 45,000 patients annually and conducts basic science, clinical and outcomes research. The College of Medicine is home to the Cancer Research Center, Center for Wellbeing, and is a collaborator in Jump Simulation. Learn more about UICOMP at






Carrie McCance
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