M.D. Program – St. Joseph

Rural Pathway Program

UMKC SOM Rural Medicine Pathway Program


Thank you for your interest in UMKC’s Rural Medicine Pathway Program, which is currently funded through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

This program is intended to recruit and support prospective current undergraduate students from under-served/under-resourced rural and tribal backgrounds who have a goal of obtaining a medical degree (students at 2-year or 4-year undergraduate degree granting institutions are eligible to apply).

The Pathway is also appropriate for gap year students and working professionals who want to deepen their experience toolbox prior to applying for an enhanced scope of practice.

The primary goal of our program is to increase the number of physicians practicing in these medically underserved areas.

Selection will be based on how well the student application matches with the goals of the UMKC program and HRSA grant. Students must have a minimum cumulative GPA and BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math) GPA of 3.2 to apply.

Program Information and Expectations

For Undergraduates: The spring semester of the sophomore year (or junior year if taking a gap year) is the ideal time to apply.

For Post-graduates and Professionals: Post-graduate students and working professionals on extended timelines to medical school and medical re-applicants are also welcome to apply.  It is recommended that non-traditional students contact the Program Director for personal consultation on individual goals and appropriate timeline for Pathway matriculation. (kmspears@umkc.edu)

High school students are not eligible for this program, but those interested in alternative learning opportunities in regional healthcare may contact the Northwest Missouri Area Health Education Center, a partner of UMKC School of Medicine and Mosaic Life Care.

Program Activities

During the program students may experience:

  • In-person opportunities for shadowing healthcare providers with rural health backgrounds
  • Discounted MCAT preparation course
  • Study skills and standardized exam prep training
  • Professional Interview best practices training
  • Access to personal advising
  • Professional clinical skills training opportunities (BLS, suturing skills, human cadaver experiences)
  • Other extracurricular activities (in-person and virtual) to improve preparation and competitiveness for medical school admission.
  • Specialized programming addressing the challenges of rural healthcare and rural workforce development

Program Expectations

Accepted students must sign and return their Program Participation Agreement within two weeks of notification of acceptance.

Attendance is mandatory at monthly virtual activities/seminars or check-ins with your advisor, as well as participation in a minimum of one on-site clinical shadowing experience scheduled in a summer term during the program.

Accepted students are expected to have availability for the required in-person clinical experiences (during specific days) and virtual classes (scheduled evenings/weekends).  Some program activities will be considered mandatory for all enrolled, but some flexibility to customize with additional optional enrichment opportunities may be offered.

Students will be provided with stipend support at the end of Summer, Spring, and Fall terms of their Pathway enrollment to offset travel, housing, and other expenses.

Students must maintain Good Standing with the program in order to qualify for reimbursement and stipend benefits.  Good Standing in the program requires maintenance of a cumulative undergraduate AND BCPM GPA of 3.2 if currently enrolled and attendance at all required activities.

Good Standing Criteria

  • Students must attend the entire 5 day in person Clinical Experience week
    • Any absences for acute illness or work requirements must be reviewed by program staff

  • Students must attend 10 total activities during the 1 year specified duration of the program and ALL required activities (Summer, Fall, Spring) to maintain their eligibility for continued program support.
    • To be considered “in attendance” students must complete pre-work preparation and arrive on time

  • Students must maintain appropriate and timely communications with program staff and peer advisors, defined as:
    • response to Program communications in 48 hrs of email messaging
    • maintenance of minimum 1hr monthly meeting w/ assigned Peer Advisor
  • If enrolled in coursework, maintenance of a minimum 3.2 overall AND Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math GPA

  • Students must display professionalism in all aspects of their participation in programming activities, to include:
    • ​​​​​​​a record of prompt, prepared attendance at required events
    • appropriate behavior and dress at all clinical encounters
    • appropriate, timely, and effective communications with program staff
  • Students who fail to meet any of the above criteria will lose their status as students in Good Standing and forfeit:
    • right to an automatic interview with UMKC School of Medicine
    • right to waiver of UMKC School of Medicine application fees
    • right to any further reimbursement for MCAT preparation courses or testing fees
    • the right to any further disbursement of stipend funds
    • the right to a graduation certificate indicating their Good Standing completion 

Support Benefits and Guidelines

The Rural Medicine Pathway is intended to reduce many barriers for students interested in Rural Medicine, including financial, geographic, and clinical.  Some of the benefits and supports Pathway students in Good Standing may expect include:

  • Student housing provided at no cost to the student for Clinical Week Experience.
  • A stipend of $300 per semester (summer, fall, spring, $900 total disbursed at the end of the term) will be paid to offset additional expenses, if in good standing with the program. * Note: receiving a stipend may affect financial aid packages if currently enrolled; please consult with your financial aid officer prior to accepting.

  • Discounted MCAT preparation resources are available through NWMO AHEC (see their website for details). Princeton Review Self-Paced or MCAT 515 voucher prep courses can be reimbursed to 50% with proof of payment immediately upon purchase by the student.
    • The Pathway program will reimburse 25% of discounted course costs up front for students in good standing at the time of course purchase.
    • An additional 25% of these costs will be reimbursed upon proof of completion of 80% of engagement with available prep course activities, including attendance (when tracked), assignments, and practice exams.
    • A final 25% of discounted course costs will be reimbursed upon submission of an MCAT score report documenting a score of 505 or higher.
    • Total student responsibility = 25% of discounted course cost if above criteria are met.
    • MCAT examination fee for one exam will be reimbursed if a score of 505 or above is achieved.

  • Application costs (primary and secondary application) to UMKC School of Medicine will be reimbursed.
  • Automatic interview

Application Requirements

Your application will require the following information:

  • Your personal contact information
  • Key demographic data about you
  • Copies of your unofficial academic transcript(s) in PDF format for all schools you attended
  • Your responses to the four essay prompts below (limit 1000 words)
  • A copy of your current CV in PDF format (see example link on this page)
  • Minimum two letters of recommendation from faculty members, health care workers, or other advocates who may speak to your fit for this program and dedication to rural medicine initiatives.
      • At least one letter should be from a science faculty member at your institution or mentor of equivalent status if you are no longer academically enrolled.
      • At least one letter should be from an individual who knows you in another capacity (clinical, community service, volunteer, or otherwise) who can speak to your positive attributes.
      • A Health Professions Committee Letter of Recommendation is also acceptable if available at your academic institution.  When submitting a committee letter, only one letter of documentation is required.
      • Letters must be emailed to admissions directly from the letter writers, preferably on letterhead, and from a professional or institutional email address to: kmspears@umkc.edu

Note that successful applicants will have completed or be enrolled in any 4 out of the 10 science courses listed below completed prior to application, OR have achieved Undergraduate or Professional degrees that included the following coursework:

Labs associated with these classes are strongly encouraged:

  • General Biology I
  • General Biology II
  • General Chemistry I
  • General Chemistry II
  • Organic Chemistry I
  • Cell Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • General Physics I
  • General Physics II
  • Genetics

The courses below are additional recommended courses that do not need to be completed prior to application but will substantially maximize student benefit achieved from program activities:

  •  English elective
  •  Composition or Writing course
  •  Statistics
  •  Psychology/Social Science

If your college or university awarded you credit for any AP courses, they MUST be listed on your college transcript. If they are not listed individually on your college transcript, you must send a letter from your college registrar indicating the AP courses and the course requirements that they fulfill at your college or university.

Official transcripts are not required but may be directed to kmspears@umkc.edu upon request.


Application Essay Prompts

You will be asked to complete your answers to the following questions in essays of no more than 1000 wordsYou will not be able to save and return to the application form once you start, so you may wish to construct your responses offline in a word processor and add them to your application after additional reflection.

Please answer the following questions about your interest in pursuing Rural Medicine:

  1. Describe your personal interest in practicing as a rural physician; how has any contact with the medical profession as a patient, advocate, or a provider/professional influenced your desire to practice rural medicine?
  2. Please describe the area(s) in which you grew up and describe the community you listed as your hometown (if different).
  3. Describe your understanding of an issue or challenge facing health care for rural communities.
  4. In what areas do you feel you need to improve to become a successful candidate to a medical degree program? 

Curriculum Vitae

You will be asked to submit a current CV as part of your application materials.

What is a CV?

A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a catalogue of the work you have done in various areas of your career. It is similar to a resume and can also be used as a tool to reflect on or evaluate your experiences. One can see where deficiencies in experience are and fill those gaps. There are different CV formats that you may use, but it is recommended you use our template.

Download the template below.

CV Template


For additional examples of CVs for pre-medical students and instructions on developing your document, please refer to this link.


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