SOMERS, Wis.—Many Wisconsin rural and urban communities have something in common – a shortage of physicians and other health-care professionals. Rural and Urban Scholars in Community Health, or RUSCH, is designed to meet that growing need.
The goal of this initiative from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, is to select and nurture students who come from diverse backgrounds and show an interest in practicing medicine in rural and urban underserved areas of the state.
Peter Capelli of Kenosha, Meghan Conley of West Bend, Alyssa Maciejewski of South Milwaukee, Thomas Mehner of Franklin, and Keona Thompson of Racine – all pre-med students at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside – are among the first undergraduates selected for RUSCH.
“The UW School of Medicine and Public Health is very familiar with our successful pre-med program,” said Dr. Bryan Lewis, assistant to the dean for health-related professions at UW-Parkside. “They also noticed the demographics of our campus; we’re urban and rural. We have both segments of those populations here.”
Close to 90 percent of UW-Parkside pre-med students who apply to medical school are accepted – the national average is just under 40 percent.
“The university has a long history of intensive advising for students in pre-med,” Lewis said. “That is a huge factor, but just one part of why we have continuously achieved such a high acceptance rate.”
Maciejewski, a junior biological sciences major, said the ultimate goal of her participation in RUSCH is to make good contacts at the medical school to further her eventual career. “I’d like to be a radiologist. I’m also starting to get interested in public health as a result of this program,” she said.
The students will spend eight to 10 weeks this summer assisting UW School of Medicine and Public Health faculty with research projects. Then, in the summer of 2014, they participate in a 10-week internship in southeastern Wisconsin. Along the way, Lewis and primary pre-health adviser Mary Beuscher will involve the students in leadership and professional-development courses.
Lewis said the interview and selection process for RUSCH mirrored what students will experience when they apply for medical school. While participation in RUSCH does not provide an inside track to the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, Lewis said it does provide students with research and clinical experiences not usually available to undergraduates.
The UW School of Medicine and Public Health RUSCH program has been in existence since 2009. UW-Parkside is a new partner this year. Original partners are UW-Milwaukee and UW-Platteville.
The University of Wisconsin-Parkside is one of 13 four-year campuses in the University of Wisconsin System. Founded in 1968 to better serve the needs of a growing population in southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois, UW-Parkside offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs and serves as an academic and cultural resource. The campus is located at 900 Wood Rd. in Somers.