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Dr. J. Martin Byers Jr. Memorial Fund in Family Medicine

Each school year, students from all of Ohio’s medical schools are invited to apply to participate in the annual Rural Health Scholars Retreat. Held in a rural location, the weekend retreat is dedicated to addressing significant issues in rural health policy, rural medical education, rural practice, and/or rural research. The goal is to attract students to excellence in clinical practice, in research, in advocacy, and in medical education. Each Rural Health Scholars Retreat is open to any student with an interest in generalist rural practice, whether family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, emergency medicine, or general surgery. Overall, the Rural Health Scholars Retreat Program intends to:

  • Identify rural-interested students with leadership potential early and throughout their medical school career.
  • Enroll these scholars as student members of the National Rural Health Association, forming a state chapter of the NRHA student constituency group.
  • Plan and conduct an annual Rural Health Scholars Retreat in Logan County, OH.
  • Send at least two students each year to the Rural Health Policy Institute in Washington, D. C. or to the Annual Meeting of the National Rural Health Association.

Applications are publicized through contacts at each of Ohio's medical schools and through the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians each August.  To date, there have been fourteen Rural Health Scholars Retreats and the fifteenth retreat is scheduled to take place October 7-9, 2016.

"Train Rural, Go Global"
Annual Rural Health Scholars Retreat 2015-2016
Logan (Old Man's Cave), Ohio, October 16-18, 2015

Special Guest: Dr. Therese Zink, family physician and author, an Ohio State graduate and Chair of Family Medicine at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, joined us in exploring rural and global training opportunities and developing skills for learning from these experiences. The group of 24 students from seven of Ohio’s eight medical schools developed skills in narrative story-telling and reflective writing as they listened to family physicians relate their lessons from service in medical school, residency, and practice.







“Inaugural Annual Rural Health Scholars Retreat”
January 24-25, 2003
Guests: Harry Graber MD, Cardiologist and rural clinician-scholar, West Liberty, Ohio;
Steven Wilhide, Executive Director, National Rural Health Association







“Country Doctors in Literature”
Annual Rural Health Scholars Retreat 2003-2004
January 30-31, 2004
Special Guest: Johanna Shapiro PhD, Professor of Family Medicine and Director of
Medical Humanities, University of California Irvine College of Medicine






“Community Asset Mapping”
Annual Rural Health Scholars Retreat 2004-2005
October 1-2, 2004
Special Guest: Ann Peton, Cartographer, Community Information Resource Center,
Rural Policy and Research Institute; http://circ.rupri.org/

“Understanding Poverty and Promoting Health in Rural Practice”
Annual Rural Health Scholars Retreat 2005-2006
October 28-29, 2005
Special Guest: Ruby Payne PhD, nationally known educator and author of "A
Framework for Understanding Poverty"


“Defining Rural: Research, Policy, Medical Education, and Practice”  
Annual Rural Health Scholars Retreat 2006-2007
October 20-21, 2006
Special Guest: L. Gary Hart PhD, Director and Principle Investigator, WWAMI
Rural Health Research Center.  http://depts.washington.edu/uwrhrc/index.html


“Advocating for Rural Health: Health Policy in Ohio”
Annual Rural Health Scholars Retreat 2007-2008
October 5-6, 2007
Special Guests: C. David Paragas, Healthcare Attorney and Counsel to the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians;
Heather Reed, State Office of Rural Health; Susan Isaac, Institute for Local Government Administration and Rural
Development, Ohio University; Cameron Warner, Deputy District Director for Congressman Jim Jordan, US House
of Representatives; Congressman Tony Core, Ohio’s 83rd District; and representatives from the Logan County
Democratic and Republican parties. 


“Rural Women’s Health: Building the infrastructure for a healthy rural community”
Annual Rural Health Scholars Retreat 2008-2009
Road trip to Wayne and Holmes Counties, Ohio, October 17-18, 2008
Special Guests: Rural hospital administrators, social workers, community advocates, physicians, midwives, and a psychologist.









"Mental Health in Rural Communities: Challenges, oppotunities, and resources"
Annual Rural Health Scholars Retreat 2007-2008
October 5 and 6, 2007
Special Guests: Don Hilty MD, a psychiatrist and native of Logan County, Ohio, now Director of the Rural Program in Medical Education (Rural-PRIME) at the University of California Davis School of Medicine, and Cheryl Levine PsyD, clinical psychologist and behavioral science coordinator for the OSU Rural Program.









“Designing Your Own Path to Rural Practice”
Annual Rural Health Scholars Retreat 2010-2011
October 15 and16, 2010
Explored the myriad paths to preparing for rural practice, facilitated by Dr. Longenecker, current residents, and two RHS graduates now in rural practice, Eric Prenger MD, Family Medicine in Sidney, OH, and Terri Mucha MD, Family Medicine, in McCall, ID.







“What Does Scholarship Have to Do with Rural Practice?”
Annual Rural Health Scholars Retreat 2011-2012
October 14 and 15, 2011
Four physicians shared their scholarly pursuits in rural medicine, encouraging students to follow their example: Dr. Harry Graber, a rural cardiologist who helped in discovering the first genetically encoded cardiomyopathy; Dr. Lars Peterson, a prior Rural Health Scholar and now nationally recognized for his work in rural health systems research; Dr. David Loxterkamp, a family physician author from rural Maine, and Dr. Randall Longenecker, widely recognized for his expertise in rural medical education.








Appalachian Ohio: Health Care Challenges and Opportunities
Annual Rural Health Scholars Retreat 2012-2013
Logan, Ohio, November 9-11, 2012

The focus of this year’s retreat was the incredible challenges and opportunities afforded by rural practice in Appalachian Ohio. Four physicians from rural practice, a clinical psychologist, and nursing professor shared their perspectives throughout the course of a weekend marked with a traditional Appalachian string band performance, an introduction to the culture and landscape of Appalachia, a visit to a federally qualified health center in the least populous county in Ohio, a formal panel as well as informal conversations with all six rural practitioners, and a hike to Old Man’s Cave.







Addressing the Health of Rural Veterans
Annual Rural Health Scholars Retreat 2013-2014
Logan (Old Man's Cave), Ohio, October 18-20, 2013

In collaboration with the Veterans Health Administration’s Office of Rural Health, and it’s Director Gina Capra, M.P.A., and with the help of veteran physicians who told their own stories, students and participating faculty learned important tips for relating to patients who are veterans, came to understand the unique challenges they face in getting coordinated care in rural places, and discovered ways in which their care can be successfully integrated into the civilian health care system.





The Business of Rural Practice
Annual Rural Health Scholars Retreat 2014-2015
Logan (Old Man’s Cave), Ohio, October 17 through 19, 2014

This year’s workshop focused on the business aspects of rural practice, including a workshop at Stagecoach Family Practice, the office of Dr. Scott Anzalone of Logan, Ohio. Dr. Brian Forrest from Access Healthcare, a direct primary care practice in North Carolina, was our special guest. Students learned a variety of strategies for financially sustaining a rural primary care practice, including Direct Primary Care, traditional fee for service, health system or hospital employment, Rural Health Clinics, and others. They heard personal stories of rural physicians, who had functioned over their career under a variety of financial models in practice.



Publications and Presentations: 

Longenecker R: “Rural Health Scholars,” in A Tour of Rural Medical Education, Annual Meeting of the Rural Medical Educators and Pre-conference to the NRHA Rural Health Policy Institute, Washington, DC, February 22, 2004.

Shapiro J, Longenecker R: “Country Doctors in Literature: Helping Medical Students Understand What Rural Practice is All About,” Acad Med 2005; 80: 724-727.

Longenecker R: “Rural Health Scholars: Attracting Students to Excellence in Generalist Practice,” STFM 33rd Annual Predoctoral Education Conference, Memphis, TN, January 27, 2007.(Family Medicine Digital Resources Library; 2007. Available from: http://www.fmdrl.org/)