Program Overview

Rural Community Health Scholars is a two-year program offered to only 75 of West Virginia’s top health professions students from institutions across the sate; this program aims to provide supplemental and interprofessional educational experiences to those interested in practicing in rural or underserved communities. 

Health professions students in the following areas are eligible to apply:WV AHEC Rural Community Health Scholars; a member of the National AHEC Organization

  • Dentistry, DDS
  • Dental Hygiene (UG)
  • Doctor of Pharmacy
  • Doctor of Psychology
  • Exercise Physiology (UG)
  • Health Informatics and Information Management (UG)
  • Medicine (Osteopathic, Family, OBGYN, etc.) 
  • Master or Doctor of Occupational Therapy
  • Master of Social Work
  • Master of Public/Population Health Programs
  • Nurse Practitioner, Doctor of Nursing Practice, Nursing PhD, and Nursing (UG)
  • Nutrition/Dietetics (UG)
  • Physical Therapy
  • Physician Assistant
  • Radiologic Technology and Science Sonography (UG)
  • And more (contact us if your discipline is not listed - you may still be eligible to participate)

The program runs from November 1 - June 30 each year, and incorporates the following curricular emphases:

  • Interprofessional education
  • Behavioral health integration
  • Social determinants of health
  • Cultural competency
  • Practice transformation
  • Current and emerging health issues

Accepted Scholars are enrolled in this program for two years, and must fulfill the following requirements annually for a total of 160 hours of supplemental RCH curriculum that extends beyond your college/school's health professions components (80 hours total in year one, and 80 hours total in year two) to complete the program:

40 hours of community-based experiential or clinical training in a rural or underserved area:

Community-based training requires scholars to complete a pre-approved community-based rotation in a rural or underserved area of West Virginia for a minimum of 40 hours annually. Scholars will receive hands-on training with a preceptor, engage with interdisciplinary health care providers and rural communities, and become well-adept to the multifaceted nature of health care in rural WV. 

As each discipline is different, this experience can take many forms: some Scholars may elect to participate in a clinical rotation, while others will engage in a practicum, community needs assessment, preceptor shadowing, etc.  We shape the experience to you! 

Ed Swepston giving Scholars info on caving

40 hours of didactic education via our online platform, SOLE:

Didactic education requires scholars to complete 40 hours of online learning via a module in SOLE annually; courses are taught by WVU faculty, Marshall University faculty, WVU Extension Services, the IHI (Institute for Healthcare Improvement), WV State Medical Association, and several other community partners. Scholars will complete one of the following three learning modules that most closely reflects the health need(s) of the community in which they are immersed during their community-based training:

  • Community Rural immersion Module
  • Cultural Competency Module
  • Health Policy Module
  • Interprofessional Education Module

 For more information on the didactic component, please see the Didactic Modules page. 

AHEC Scholars Meet & Greet