Family Medicine Rural Clerkship

Medical Students (M.D.)

The Family Medicine Rural Clerkship will provide you with the opportunity to gain core competence in family medicine. All third year students at MUSC are required to participate in the clerkship as part of the third year curriculum. The clerkship focuses on rural, underserved South Carolina, partly because – to paraphrase MUSC’s President, Dr. Cole –

“This institution is not the Medical University of Charleston; this is the Medical University of South Carolina. You need to get away from a tertiary care institution to get a better sense of what most physicians do, and how the entire health care system functions. Regardless of where and what you will practice in the future, the knowledge that you gain of the overall health care system will always help you.”

Outpatient Care
The clerkship emphasizes outpatient care, though your preceptor may have you seeing patients in the hospital, home, or extended care facility setting. The clerkship plays a needed role in your education, by providing you with a solid outpatient care experience.

You will gain firsthand experience of the value of continuity – how it can be part of the healing process to understand a patient within the context of his/her life history, relationships, and dreams. Much of patient care in a hospital, especially a referral-based hospital, can be the care of strangers. Knowing the person in context can improve care greatly.

By the end of the clerkship, you will understand the family physician’s role as the point of first contact. At the point of first access, a patient’s initial presentation can be ambiguous, vague, or uncertain – you will understand better why and how there can be a delay to diagnosis or referral. You will practice playing this role, as the point for first contact. You will go in the room before your preceptor, gather the history and physical exam findings, come up with a reasonable assessment and plan, and then present the findings, your conclusions, and suggestions for the plan to your preceptor.

Comprehensive and Coordinated
You will understand the family physician’s role in managing complexity, care that requires coordination among different health care professionals. You will appreciate that most problems can be handled in a regular doctor’s office, with minimal support of labs, imaging studies, or invasive procedures. We hope that you will also appreciate the complexities and difficulties that patients and health care providers face in managing care across geographic distances, without all of the support immediately available in a tertiary care center.

This program would not be possible without the assistance and teaching of the dedicated physicians and their staff in rural practices across the state, as well as the South Carolina Area Health Education Consortium and its Family Medicine Residency Programs throughout the state. The students and staff at MUSC extend their deepest appreciation to all of these health care professionals.

Clerkship Calendar
• At the beginning of each rotation, students receive a calendar in their orientation packets.
• Students have responsibilities and activities with both rural preceptors in the clinical setting and with MUSC Family Medicine faculty members in didactic activities at MUSC.
• It is the student's responsibility to give his/her rural preceptor a copy of the calendar so that the preceptor is aware of the student's schedule.
• All sessions are mandatory.
• Below is a typical schedule.

First Week of Block
Orientation is located on campus in Charleston (specific location will be sent via email prior to beginning of rotation).
Monday – AM: General orientation and workshop sessions; PM: Workshop sessions
Tuesday – AM: OSLEs; PM: Workshop sessions
Wednesday – AM: Aquifer Family Medicine pre-test; PM: Travel time
Thursday-Friday – Work at clinical site

Final Week of Block
Monday-Tuesday – Work at clinical site
Wednesday – Travel/wellness time and mandatory feedback session on campus
Thursday – AM: Wellness/study time; PM: NBME Shelf Exam
Friday – AM: OSCEs