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Meeting the Needs of Rural Communities: FSU Hosts 'RuLE' Tour

Meeting the Needs of Rural Communities: FSU Hosts 'RuLE' Tour
Meeting the Needs of Rural Communities: FSU Hosts 'RuLE' Tour
Posted at 10:08 AM, Jun 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-02 11:07:54-04

Tallahassee, Fla., (WTXL)- More than thirty first year medical students at the Florida State University College of Medicine boarded buses Friday morning to visit rural communities in Florida. Those students will interact with primary care doctors, and health department officials in places like Bristol, Perry, Quincy, and Madison. 

It's all part of FSU's College of Medicine Rural Learning Experience (RuLE), sponsored by the Florida Blue Foundation. The program is meant to introduce up and coming doctors to the need for preventative healthcare outside of metropolitan areas. 

"Practically every one of our rural counties in the state of Florida, and there are about thirty of them are health care provider shortage areas, mental health provider shortage areas." Dr. Gail Bellamy, the Director of the Florida Blue Center for Rural Health Research and Policy explains.

Bellamy says not having preventative healthcare close to people outside of metropolitan areas can be a huge public health problem. People outside of urban zones may not seek care unless there is something apparently wrong, meaning that things like dental health are compromised, and early diagnoses for things like depression and cancer are nearly out of the question.

Often, people in rural areas lack the resources to travel on a regular basis to the nearest health care provider. 

"The mission to provide high quality, patient centered services particularly to communities in need, vulnerable populations including rural and ethnic minorities and poor. That is what speaks to me." Dr. Bellamy explains, "Providing access, not just an insurance card. We want providers who are available, who know you, who can take care of you...to be able to do that, to have healthy and productive Floridians? That's huge."

Bellamy says this program helps students to dip their toe in the water. To begin to establish an understanding of what rural medicine is all about, and to consider taking their FSU medical degrees outside of cities... straight to communities in need.