Student FAQ

About the RUOP Program

RUOP is an elective immersion experience open to all UW Medical students. There are no grades. Students are responsible for setting learning goals with support from the RUOP office. The experience provides many opportunities for students to see, first hand, what it is like to work in an underserved community.

RUOP Syllabus:

RUOP students will be provided access to an online syllabus to guide their learning experience. Students will be notified once the 2015 syllabus has been published. The RUOP Placement Record, Learning Plan, Photo Permission Form, and other documents students may need will also be published along side the syllabus.


RUOP applications are accepted between Monday, December 8, 2014 and Monday, January 5, 2015 at 5 PM pacific standard time. Please note that late applications will not be accepted. The RUOP Administrative office facilitates application process. Click to learn more about RUOP Applications

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What kind of clinical experiences do students have?
  2. What other types of activities do students do during their RUOP rotation?
  3. What about housing, food, and transportation?
  4. Who are the preceptors?
  5. What about professional liability?
  6. How is RUOP funded?
  7. Can I choose my RUOP site?
  8. When do I find out where I will be going for my R/UOP experience?
  9. What are the elements for success?

1. What kind of clinical experiences do students have?

The R/UOP experience precedes much of the student's clinical education. There are as many different experiences as there are student/preceptor dyads. The student and physician preceptor teams discuss learner and preceptor expectations early in the 4-week rotation. Typical clinical experiences include:
  • taking general and problem-focused histories and
  • honing physical exam skills
  • learning and assisting in office procedures
  • minor surgery and laceration repair
  • attending one or more births
  • assisting in surgery

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2. What other types of activities do students during their RUOP program? 

RUOP students experience the unique features of practicing medicine in a rural or underserved community by learning about the communities, themselves. 

Students are encouraged to participate in community activities beyond their preceptor's practice such as:

  • home visits with visiting nurses
  • work with specialists in the community
  • speak with public health officers
  • teach health education offerings
  • community recreational activities
  • attend community cultural events

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3. What about housing, food, and transportation? 

Housing is varied and is arranged in the communities by the Area Health Education Centers (AHEC). Participating communities are encouraged to suggest housing ideas which facilitate the student's involvement in the community. Housing arrangements have included staying:

  • with a community family
  • in the hospital
  • with a preceptor's family
  • in an apartment

Students receive a stipend to help with food costs. Sometimes host families include the student in family meals or allow the student "kitchen privileges". Some students have been given meal passes to eat one or two meals per day at the hospital. Others eat in restaurants.

Transportation support between your campus and the RUOP site is arranged through the AHEC Placement Coordinator. Transportation during rural stays can offer some challenges. Having a vehicle to get around the community is extremely helpful. If bringing a vehicle is not at all feasible, students have brought or borrowed bicycles for transportation while on site. Relying on host families for transportation needs is not appropriate.

The program is supportive of family members accompanying students to their RUOP sites. However, the program is only able to fund housing for the RUOP student, not accompanying family members. The AHEC Placement Coordinators work diligently to find accommodations for students who have accompanying family, however this may limit site location.

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4. Who are the preceptors?

  • Preceptors are physicians practicing in rural sites or urban clinics serving underserved populations.
  • All are primary care providers; most are family physicians.
  • Preceptors must be willing to take responsibility for the student's experience at the site. Preceptors work with the student to establish a variety of experiences.
  • Preceptors supervise patient-student contacts and help the student to evaluate individual progress throughout the 4-weeks. 

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5. What about professional liability? 

All preceptors are appointed as clinical preceptors or clinical faculty at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.

  • The Rural/Underserved Opportunities Program is a part of the educational program of the School of Medicine.
  • Professional liability for both students and preceptors, acting in the course and scope of their University responsibilities, is included in the professional liability coverage of the UW School of Medicine.

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6. How is R/UOP funded? 

R/UOP is a collaborative effort of the following entities who contribute to its funding:

  • Area Health Education Centers in Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho
  • Idaho and Washington Academies of Family Physicians
  • Department of Family Medicine
  • Dean's Office at the University of Washington School of Medicine
  • WWAMI medical programs in Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho
  • Funding is also provided by supporting foundations
  • Students receive a stipend and money for travel. Additionally, they are assisted in locating housing.

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7. Can I choose my own location and preceptor?

Students cannot choose their own location and preceptor. Matching students with preceptors is done through the Seattle RUOP Office and by the AHEC Placements Coordinators. Students prioritize their choices of RUOP sites on their application. Placement is dependent on many factors. Students from each campus have first option to sites in their geographic area (example: AK students have first choice for AK sites; ID students for ID sites; etc.). We also take into consideration: student goals, student availability and preceptor availability, the student's location ranking, and the preceptors ability to assist the student meet his/her goals. Other information like, accompanying family, special extenuating circumstances, and even health allergies play a role in placement. Students are encouraged to complete their applications thoroughly!

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8. When do I find out where I will be going for my RUOP experience?

Placement Coordinators complete placements throughout the months of March and April. Placements are announced sometime during those months.

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9. What are the elements for success?

  • Student enthusiasm and energy!
  • Preceptors who are exemplary physicians; who want to teach clinical skills and to share insights about their particular career choice.
  • Communities who have welcomed the students and supported RUOP in a variety of ways.
  • Clarity between students and preceptors regarding learning goals and expectations.
  • RUOP is committed to providing a quality experience to all students regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam era veteran in accordance with University policy and applicable federal and state statutes and regulations.

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