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a part of Des Moines University’s Rural Iowa Provider Education program

Des Moines University is proactively addressing critical shortages of health care providers and practitioners in Iowa’s rural communities through the creation of the Rural Medicine Educational Pathway (RMEP).

The RMEP program provides specialized education, training and tools to better prepare students for service in rural, underserved areas of Iowa. If you are inclined to practice medicine in rural Iowa after graduation, this program is for you.

Rural Medicine Educational Pathway

Rural Iowa has a critical shortage of health care practitioners in primary care and other specialties. You can be part of the solution, and we can help you get there.

While many studies rank Iowa near the top when comparing the quality of health care, Iowa’s rural communities are in need of health care providers. Even though the practice of physical therapy in rural America is very rewarding, today’s physical therapy graduates do not frequently consider practicing in rural communities.  Obstacles such as the graduate education debt load, professional isolation and lifestyle often discourage students from pursuing a career in a rural setting. Des Moines University and its Area Health Education Center program are addressing these issues through expanded relationships with rural health care providers, hospitals and clinics to demonstrate the rewarding experience of rural medicine.

Scholarship and service

To be eligible for the scholarship, you will commit:

  • To the completion of all Rural Medicine Educational Pathway curriculum requirements
  • To maintain a full-time practice in an Iowa community with a population of 20,000 or less which has been approved by DMU, and to provide physical therapy services for a period of three years, or one year for each year of full-tuition scholarship equivalents received. Emphasis will be placed on locations within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Primary Care Health Profession Shortage Areas, Medically Underserved Areas and the Governor’s Medical Underserved Populations Areas.

Here’s how the program works:


As a Des Moines University physical therapy student, the Rural Medicine Educational Pathway offers you an innovative educational curriculum to develop and support your interest in providing healthcare in a rural setting. In addition to the standard DMU physical therapy curriculum, the Rural Medicine Educational Pathway curriculum includes:

  • A series of lectures or meetings on select Saturdays during the first year of the program. Some topics covered during these sessions will include, but are not limited to:
    • Professionalism in rural healthcare practice
    • Agricultural emergencies
    • Building a rural practice
    • Telemedicine and teleradiology
    • Managing high school athletics from the sidelines
    • End of life and other geriatric issues in rural medicine
    • Other topics pertinent to rural medicine
  • Mentorship by Iowa physicians, physical therapists, and Nurse Practitioners currently practicing rural medicine


As a Rural Medicine Educational Pathway student, you will be required to:

  • Maintain enrollment in the College of Health Sciences with passing grades in all courses and remain in good academic standing at all times
  • Become active in at least one patient care student club or organization on campus
  • Complete the Rural Medicine Educational Pathway curriculum
  • Attend the Saturday lectures and meetings (described above)

How to apply

Any student, upon acceptance into the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, is eligible to apply to the Rural Medicine Educational Pathway program. One full tuition scholarship or two half-tuition scholarships will be awarded annually to DPT students within the RMEP program. Scholarships are renewable for each year of the program.

The application will be made available to accepted students in the winter prior to matriculation. Applications will be reviewed as they are submitted and decisions provided within 4-6 weeks. If you are awarded a Rural Medicine Educational Pathway scholarship, you must execute the Des Moines University Rural Medicine Educational Pathway scholarship agreement.

Want more information?

DPT Admissions
800-240-2767 ext. 7854