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Longenecker joins OU-HCOM as new assistant dean for Rural and Underserved Programs

Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM) has appointed Randall Longenecker, M.D., FAAFP, as its first assistant dean for rural and underserved programs. The position oversees the Rural and Urban Scholars Pathways Program and the patient-centered medical care curriculum for medical students, as well as rural training tracks in residency programs.

The need for physicians in rural and underserved urban areas is growing, Longenecker said. What these populations have in common is a lack of resources such as adequate transportation and access to specialist networks and health insurance.

 “The key in training physicians for these environments is to make them adaptable generalists,” said Dr. Longenecker. “We have to train students to deal with limited resources and give them a broader scope of practice. Through these tracks, the focus is on place-based education where students have the benefit of training in the settings in which they will eventually work.”

OU-HCOM began recruiting students into the Rural and Urban Scholars Pathways Program in October. Twenty students will be admitted in the program’s first year, eight incoming students and 12 current first year students going into their second year. “We are looking for students with the potential for an underserved practice and those with exceptional leadership skills,” said Dr. Longenecker.

 Funding for the new position comes in part from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation's historic April 2011 gift. The $105 million supports college initiatives that enrich primary care medical education, enhance research that addresses our most pervasive health issues, and improve community health. 

Dr. Longenecker has extensive experience in developing rural training programs. At the Ohio State University he created a Rural Health Scholars program, which for 11 years has accepted medical students from all Ohio’s medical schools. He served for 15 years as program director of the rural training track residency in family medicine at Mad River Family Practice and Mary Rutan Hospital in Bellefontaine, Ohio. He has also served as membership chair of the Rural Medical Educators of the National Rural Health Association. Dr. Longenecker will continue his collaboration with the National Rural Health Association and other rural medical educators, consulting with programs across the country. 

For the past two years, he assisted in developing a patient-centered medical care curriculum at the Ohio State University Department of Family Medicine, and he will now oversee this effort at OU-HCOM in his new position.

Through a grant from the federal Office of Rural Health Policy, Dr. Longenecker is also developing the non-profit Rural Training Track Collaborative, a network of medical education programs created to sustain health professions education in rural places. OU-HCOM will house this groundbreaking project, which will advance rural training tracks nationwide.

Longenecker will also continue to conduct some clinical work and research while teaching.

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Last updated: 01/28/2016