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Rural and Urban Scholars Pathways

What is RUSP?

The Rural and Urban Scholars Pathways program is a co-curricular learning community that aims to support and prepare medical student to practice in medically underserved areas.  With the addition of the 2023–2024 cohort, the total number of students participating in the RUSP program is 146, including all four years across all three campuses. In 2022-2023, RUSP students represented 14% of the student body at HCOM.

Watch the video above  to hear RUSP graduate, Stephanie Deuley, D.O. (’18), talk about the RUSP program in her own words.

Goals of RUSP

  • Encourage students toward rural and urban underserved practice
  • Foster a reflective learning community
  • Develop competencies relevant to rural and urban underserved practice 
  • Develop leadership skills in team settings
  • Build awareness of community assets and sense of place in rural and urban underserved communities
  • Promote community-engaged scholarly work in underserved settings

Components of RUSP

  • Clinical Jazz, a longitudinal small-group experience in leadership development and peer coaching with a focus on competencies for practice in an underserved setting, experiential place-based learning and mentorship
  • Individualized coaching with a physician who has practiced in a rural and/or urban underserved community
  • Professional development workshops focused on active exploration of issues relevant to rural and urban underserved practice
  • Immersion experience for students in between their first and second years in a setting of relative austerity (possibly a global health experience)
  • Six months or the equivalent of curricular time in a rural or urban underserved setting
  • Scholarly project relevant to the health of rural and urban underserved communities
  • RUSP Community Orienting Experience - a three-day immersive program in rural and urban underserved communities in central and southeastern Ohio for new RUSP students

Other Opportunities and Scholarships

  • RUSP students interested in practicing in rural settings are encouraged to apply to the Rural Health Scholars Retreat each fall (open to students from all of Ohio’s medical schools).
  • RUSP will support any RUSP student in their application for scholarships offered by the Heritage College.

Apply to RUSP

Unlike many other rural or urban tracks at medical schools, RUSP is a pathway. This means that students can apply to the program as an accepted pre-matriculated student or as an OMS1. The application opens each academic year on November 1. The deadline for current students to apply is March 15 and May 1 for newly accepted students.   

Once students are accepted into the RUSP program they do not have to reapply, however, we do ask that students make an active choice to opt in/out of the RUSP program annually.

Students are encouraged to review the online application in advance, in order to know what documents are needed at time of submission.

FAQS Apply Here


For questions or additional information, please contact Dawn Mollica, administrative director.

The RUSP Team

The RUSP program was designed and implemented by Randall Longenecker, M.D. in 2013. The RUSP team includes director Sharon Casapulla, Ed.D., M.P.H., and three associate directors, one on each campus. Katy Kropf, D.O. ('02), is the associate director on the Athens campus.  Jessica Griggs, D.O. ('98), M.P.H., M.B.A., is the  associate director on the Cleveland campus and Robin Newburn, D.O.('93), is the associate director on the Dublin campus. We are supported in our work by Dawn Mollica, administrative director for the Office of Rural and Underserved Programs. Feel free to reach out to any member of the RUSP team for more information. We look forward to hearing from you. 

Each of the physician leaders on the RUSP team has been in rural or urban underserved practice. RUSP students receive regular coaching from some of the top instructors in medicine, including the National Rural Health Association's Educator of the Year and two who were named Mentor of the Year.

RUSP 10 Year Anniversary

Throughout 2023 we are celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the establishment of the RUSP program at OU-HCOM. On September 13, we held a celebration and appreciation event on each campus.  We were joined by two HCOM graduates who participated in the RUSP program.  If you missed it, you can view the presentation by Stephanie Deuley.   

The students who participate in RUSP, the mentor physicians who volunteer as RUSP coaches, and the faculty, staff and community members who facilitate Clinical Jazz have made RUSP the successful program it is. 

Since 2016, 190 HCOM students have graduated from the RUSP program .Our graduates are now out in practice!  

  • 37% (25) are practicing in a Primary Care Health Professions Shortage Area (HPSA)
  • 72% (49) are practicing in a Mental Health HPSA
  • 26% (18) are in Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs)
  • 26% (18) grads in practicing in rural places (RUCA score of 4 or higher). For context, Athens is a RUCA 4.
  • 69% (47 of the 68) are practicing in Ohio

See the full RUSP annual report at the button below.

The RUSP Program was established with funding provided by the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations (OHF).

RUSP in the news


    Supporting Underrepresented Children

    Dr. Destiny Jamison, RUSP graduate, had no plans for the future while growing up in inner-city Akron. Then, her niece was born. Wanting to be a role model, Jamison was the first in her family to graduate from high school, college and medical school.


    Rural and Urban Scholars Pathways Program grows sevenfold in past decade

    This year the Rural and Urban Scholars Pathway Program(opens in a new window) (RUSP) at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine is celebrating its 10-year anniversary and a sevenfold increase in the number of students participating in the program.