The Demonstration: Assistance in Rural Training (DART) program has received a $500,000 grant in cooperation with the Office of Rural Health Policy. These funds are for the first year of a five-year grant to support rural residency training and improve rural medical student recruitment in Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho (WWAMI). The DART proposal was a collaborative effort of the UW Family Practice Network program directors, WWAMI regional programs and the School of Medicine, with expert assistance from Barbara Perry, UW associate vice president and director of federal relations. Congressional delegations from each WWAMI state supported this legislation because it addresses a shared critical need.
In response to significantly decreased funding for rural-track residency programs, 80 percent of the DART grant will provide direct assistance to residency programs in rural areas of the region. The School of Medicine regional assistant deans, in association with the U-DOC program, will use the remaining funds on programs introducing rural high-school students to careers in health sciences and medicine.
WWAMI states constitute 27 percent of the total U.S. landmass, and 55 percent of their 10 million residents live in rural communities. The WWAMI program has demonstrated that 45 percent of the family practice residents who spend two months and 75 percent of residents who train for at least two years in rural clinics will set up practice in rural areas.
John Coombs, associate vice president for medical affairs and associate dean for regional affairs and rural health, will coordinate this effort for the School of Medicine, along with the regional WWAMI directors. Nancy Stevens, director of UW Family Practice Residency Network and associate professor of family medicine, will coordinate the residency-based component of the grant.