Rural Community Health Program Expands Footprint With Launch In Ludington

The Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (CHM) has announced a new Rural Community Health Program (R-CHP) partnership with Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital. Ludington, on the northwest coast of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, becomes the sixth Rural Community Health Program site.

Partnered with hospitals across northern and mid-Michigan, the program is designed to provide students with enriched clinical experiences, rural public health leadership opportunities, and small town lifestyle experiences that will encourage alumni to establish practices in Michigan's rural communities.

Rural communities participating in the R-CHP program have been selected based on exemplary educational and clinical opportunities within each community.

Once selected for the Rural Community Health Program, MSU’s medical students will spend up to six months at the hospital learning clinical skills and gaining experience with the varied roles of a rural physician.

“We have two medical students in the Rural Community Health Program here at Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital and they are already connected to the community,” said program director and College of Human Medicine associate professor, Andrea Wendling.

“We are hopeful this program shapes rewarding careers in rural medicine for these future physicians.”

Beyond her duties at CHM, Dr. Wendling is also a rural family physician of her own and understands that the nation's shortage of physicians extends to rural areas. In fact, she noted the misdistribution of rural physicians has been documented for over 90 years in "Rural Matters," a journal she penned for the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine.

The College of Human Medicine was founded as a response to the state's various medical needs, including those from its underserved rural populations. For much of our history, the college has been on a mission to train rural doctors.

Wendling notes in Rural Matters that "Students from rural backgrounds are significantly more likely to practice in rural areas, yet are consistently underrepresented in medical schools."

To meet the needs of Michigan's rural communities, the College of Human Medicine has implemented the Leadership in Rural Medicine Program (LRM), of which R-CHP is one of two respective tracks.

Ludington Harbor
“Helping to prepare and place new physicians in small rural communities is critical to ensuring quality health care throughout our system and the entire state,” said Ludington internist Mary O’Callaghan, division chief, NW region for the Spectrum Health Medical Group.

“We’re fortunate to have these capable students rotate through our various medical practices to gain valuable experience and assist with the care of our patients.”

Read the official announcement here.


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