Rural and Urban Scholars in Community Health (RUSCH) is a premed pipeline program that has been developed by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in partnership with three UW System campuses (UW-Milwaukee, UW-Platteville and UW-Parkside), Spelman College in Atlanta and Wisconsin's Native American college students enrolled in any campus.

Medically underserved areas in rural and urban Wisconsin are in need of physicians now and the need will continue to grow. The UW School of Medicine and Public Health has created two medical education training programs to address this problem - Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine (WARM) and Training in Urban Medicine and Public Health (TRIUMPH).

Rural and Urban Scholars in Community Health, established in 2009, further develops a pool of applicants for these two medical school tracks.

The aim of RUSCH is to select and nurture students who show an interest in practicing medicine in rural and urban underserved areas of the state. Underrepresented or disadvantaged students from partner schools are encouraged to apply, as well as Native American applicants from schools in Wisconsin and surrounding states. Nearly one-third (32 percent) of recent incoming RUSCH student cohorts have self-identified as belonging to racial and ethnic groups that are defined as underrepresented-in-medicine (URM).

The Rural and Urban Scholars in Community Health program spans two years and includes:

  • Eight-week summer research and enrichment internship on the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health campus in Madison with stipend, housing and meals provided
  • Eight-week summer internship at sites around the state through the AHEC Community Health Internship (CHIP) program
  • Health equity seminars and field trips to underserved rural and urban areas
  • MD admissions workshops and advising
  • Home campus career development and enrichment experiences

Admission criteria

Selection for RUSCH is competitive. Criteria for selection include demonstrated community service commitment, student academic performance and interest in urban or rural underserved medical practice.

Qualifications for consideration for RUSCH include:

  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Enrolled undergraduate student at UW-Milwaukee, UW-Parkside, UW-Platteville, or Spelman College, as well as Native American college students with at least sophomore standing and two years remaining before graduation
  • Desire to become a physician addressing health care needs in a medically underserved area
  • Demonstrated commitment to community service
  • Completion of introductory courses in English, math, and science specific to each campus, with a minimum grade of “B” in each course at the time of application
  • Minimum science and overall GPA of 3.0
  • First summer: available to participate in the summer research program in Madison (eight-week residential program, full-time 40 hours/week, during June and July)
  • Second summer: available to participate in the summer community health internship in local communities (eight-week program, full-time 40 hours/week, on-site in rural and urban communities across Wisconsin, during June and July)

Students should contact their home campuses or the RUSCH office for application deadlines and materials. To preview the application please see the online application portal.


Tyically 10-15 students participate in each RUSCH cohort. More than 100 students have been selected to participate in the program since the program began in 2009. 

Learning objectives

The Rural and Urban Scholars in Community Health (RUSCH) program, a collaborative effort of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Platteville, UW-Parkside and Spelman College, affords selected students the opportunity to:

  • Increase exposure to and expand knowledge of careers in medicine
  • Work side by side with current UW School of Medicine and Public Health physicians, faculty and medical students
  • Participate in community health improvement projects
  • Conduct medical research
  • Participate in experiences that will develop knowledge, skills and attitudes to strengthen application to medical school