R/UOP: Rural/Underserved Opportunities Program

Rural Student with Physician

The Rural / Underserved Opportunities Program (R/UOP) is a four-week elective immersion experience for students between their first and second years of medical school. Students participating in R/UOP work side-by-side with physicians in rural or urban underserved communities throughout the WWAMI region (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho). Students are encouraged to explore the communities during these four-week experiences.

R/UOP is administered by the UW Department of Family Medicine. It is a collaborative effort of the UW School of Medicine, the WWAMI Program, and the Area Health Education Centers. It is supported by the Washington and Idaho Academies of Family Physicians. The program has strong support from the many volunteer physician preceptors and the communities they serve. R/UOP is governed by a Steering Committee of major participants.

The program is designed to:

  • Provide students with an early exposure to the challenges and rewards of practicing primary care medicine in a rural or urban underserved setting.

  • Promote in students a positive attitude toward rural and urban underserved community medicine.

  • Provide students with an opportunity to learn how community health care systems function.

R/UOP is open to University of Washington medical students only and is extremely popular with students. Over the past five years, greater than fifty percent of all medical students from the UW and WWAMI campuses have participated in R/UOP.

Student exposure to community, economic, and lifestyle issues, social, and recreational opportunities are encouraged. Student participation in a wide range of community experiences enriches the R/UOP experience and provides context for what the student is encountering in the clinical setting.

R/UOP is funded by the Area Health Education Centers (AHECs), WWAMI medical programs, Washington and Idaho Academy of Family Physicians, UW School of Medicine, and by supporting foundations and organizations.

Students receive stipends, travel money and assistance with housing expenses. Most student housing is donated by the communities.

Contact the R/UOP Administrative Offices