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News Release

April 9, 2014

National conference to attract rural medical education leaders to Athens, Ohio 

Approximately 70 medical educators from across the country will gather at the Ohio University Inn in Athens, Ohio, April 16-18 for the 2014 Rural Training Tracks Conclave, sponsored by the RTT Collaborative and the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Focused upon the theme “Common Ground,” the 2014 RTT Conclave will bring together osteopathic and allopathic medical educators and other professionals interested in training medical students and residents in rural places. Randall Longenecker, M.D., FAAFP, assistant dean for rural and underserved programs at the Heritage College and executive director of the RTT Collaborative, organized the event to bring together diverse medical professionals with a common goal of serving the underserved and creating a sustainable rural physician workforce.

“My hope is that RTT Conclave attendees truly will find common ground and set a tone of collaboration moving forward,” Dr. Longenecker said. “Setting this tone for rural medical education may very well lead the way for others in broader conversations around other common concerns, such as transforming medical education in primary care.” 

Rural training track programs are designed to prepare primary care physicians to practice in rural areas. Research shows that physicians who train in rural areas and those whose training emphasizes services necessary for working in rural areas are more likely to go on to practice in these regions. Approximately 75 percent of the nation’s rural counties have primary care health professional shortage areas, and many primary care physicians who currently practice in rural areas are nearing retirement age.

Dr. Longenecker has assisted in the development and implementation of multiple rural training track residency programs over the past 15 years. “Rural training track programs are creating pathways for students who are committed to primary care,” Dr. Longenecker said. “These medical student and residency programs are uniquely designed to produce physicians who are prepared for practice in underserved, rural communities.”

Plenary speakers at the RTT Conclave include:

  • Andrew Bazemore, M.D., MPH, director of the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care in Washington D.C., who will discuss the primary care needs of rural America and how the RTT Collaborative is building a workforce ready to address those needs
  • Ted Epperly, M.D., FAAFP, a national expert in rural medical education and health reform from Boise, Idaho, will discuss the clinical learning environment in rural medical education. Dr. Epperly is board president of the RTT Collaborative, board member of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and past president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, which represents the nation’s 110,000 family physicians.  
  • Heritage College Executive Dean Kenneth Johnson, D.O., FAAO, who will explore osteopathic medicine’s impact on rural medical education and care.

“The RTT Conclave will bring together a committed, passionate and intelligent group of individuals who are the right people to take on the challenges of our deficient rural pipeline, and I am honored to be a part of the conversation about shaping the solution,” Dr. Bazemore said. “Athens is the perfect place to have this discussion because the Heritage College has a track record of producing doctors for rural America. To meet there is not only appropriate, but inspiring.”

The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine is a national leader in
training primary care physicians. The college is number one in Ohio and 11th nationally in
medical schools that graduate physicians who practice in underserved rural areas.

The RTT Collaborative is a nonprofit network of medical education programs from rural areas across the country. Through participation, programs share expertise in developing and sustaining rural programs and work together to solve problems and achieve common goals.

To learn more about the RTT Conclave, visit

Contact: Linda Knopp, associate director of communication, at 740-593-2199 or


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