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

RMEP Programs

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 healthcare 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 healthcare, Iowa’s rural communities need new healthcare providers to treat the acute and chronic medical conditions of the rural population. Even though the practice of medicine in rural America is very rewarding, today’s medical student graduates are moving away from primary care specialties, and even more so from medical practice in rural communities. Although DMU continues to educate PA students interested in rural primary care medicine, obstacles such as the graduate education debt load, professional isolation and lifestyle often discourage students from pursuing a career in rural medicine. Des Moines University and its Area Health Education Center program are addressing these issues through expanded relationships with rural physicians, healthcare providers, hospitals and clinics to demonstrate the rewarding experience of rural medicine.

Scholarship and service

Tuition debt load is one of the barriers for students choosing a rural medical practice.  DMU has made an on-going commitment to annually provide one full tuition OR two half-tuition scholarships to Physician Assistant students enrolled in the Rural Medicine Educational Pathway.

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 medical practice in an Iowa community with a population of 20,000 or less which has been approved by DMU, and to provide primary medical care services which are defined as family medicine, general pediatrics, general internal medicine, general surgery, obstetrics/gynecology or psychiatry for a period of two 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 physician assistant student, the Rural Medicine Educational Pathway offers you an innovative educational curriculum to develop and support your interest in rural primary care medicine. In addition to the standard DMU physician assistant 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 the rural medicine practice
    • Agricultural emergencies
    • Building a rural practice
    • The use of telemedicine and teleradiology
    • Managing high school athletics from the sidelines
    • Rural medicine case studies
    • End of life and other geriatric issues in rural medicine
    • Other topics pertinent to rural medicine
  • Mentorship by Iowa physicians, physician assistants, 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 primary care student club or organization on campus
  • Complete the Rural Medicine Educational Pathway curriculum
  • Attend the Saturday morning lectures and meetings (described above)

How to apply

Any student, upon acceptance into the Physician Assistant 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 PA students within the RMEP program. The scholarship will be renewable for the second 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?

PA Admission
800-240-2767 ext. 7854