Willmar Rural Residency Program

Willmar rural training program photo with two doctors talking

Specialize in rural primary care: Help meet the growing need for rural family physicians

Across Minnesota, the need for family medicine physicians in rural communities is greater than ever—and it’s expected to grow even more in the years to come. 

To address this gap, the University of Minnesota/CentraCare Willmar Rural Family Medicine Residency Program will start in June 2025. Residents complete one year of training with the University of Minnesota/CentraCare St. Cloud Residency program and then two years of training with Willmar rural health system providers. Graduates will be fully equipped to serve the primary care needs of Greater Minnesota who are experiencing disadvantages due to under-resourced healthcare. Apply in ERAS in September of 2024.

Training will include ambulatory family medicine, maternity care, behavioral health, inpatient medicine, emergency medicine, orthopedics and sports medicine, addiction medicine, geriatrics, and more.

Join us in bridging the gap: Become trained in rural Midwest primary care

The University of Minnesota/CentraCare Willmar Rural Family Medicine Residency Program will emphasize community-oriented training and population health while increasing healthcare access in rural areas. 


CentraCare - Willmar Lakeland Clinic

CentraCare - Willmar Lakeland Clinic

Part of the CentraCare system, the clinic offers specialties in breast care, family medicine, integrated behavioral health, and more. Read about the CentraCare - Willmar Lakeland Clinic.

CentraCare St. Cloud Hospital

CentraCare - St. Cloud Hospital

  • A 489-bed regional, tertiary care medical center with a community hospital feel
  • Magnet designation in recognition of excellence in nursing
  • Nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report and Thomson Reuters

Learn more about CentraCare - St. Cloud Hospital.

CentraCare - Rice Memorial Hospital

CentraCare - Rice Memorial Hospital

  • 100-bed regional support hospital
  • Level III Trauma Center
  • UMN Dental Training and Access Clinic
  • Willmar Cancer Center
  • 700 child-births annually
  • Inpatient mental health

Learn more about CentraCare - Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar.

A baby being examined by a doctor - Willmar rural primary care

Did you know?

The Association of American Medical Colleges document “The Complexities of Physician Supply and Demand: Projections from 2017 to 2032” notes that, as of 2017, an additional 14,100 to 17,600 physicians were needed in nonmetropolitan areas in order to give underserved populations the same access to care as populations facing fewer barriers. Learn more.

Your Training

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Your Training

Rotation sites

Your family medicine continuity clinic experience will be at the CentraCare Willmar Lakeland Clinic.

You will also rotate in the following sites:

  • CentraCare St. Cloud Hospital
  • CentraCare Rice Memorial Hospital
  • CentraCare Ambulatory Clinics in St. Cloud and Willmar
  • St. Cloud Ear Nose and Throat 
  • St. Cloud VA Health System
  • Regional Critical Access Hospitals – Litchfield, Redwood Falls, Montevideo, Benson, Paynesville (possible electives)


Your experiences will be tailored to prepare you to serve in a rural area, specifically maternity care, emergency medicine, inpatient care, and addiction services including procedures such as POCUS, colonoscopy, stress testing, and other skills needed to deliver care in a rural area.

While a resident in the program, you will complete rotations in the following areas:

  • Family medicine inpatient
  • Family medicine outpatient
  • Critical care
  • Pediatrics
  • Maternity care
  • Women’s health
  • Emergency medicine
  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and sports medicine
  • Infectious disease
  • Psychiatry
  • Cardiology
  • Dermatology
  • Geriatrics
  • Community medicine
  • Neurology
  • Nephrology
  • Endoscopy
  • ENT
  • ICU
  • PICU
  • Urology
  • Research
  • Electives
Map of Minnesota showing the city of Willmar in relation to Minneapolis

About the Willmar community

With a population of about 21,045 (as of 2021), Willmar is a city in the county of Kandiyohi about two hours west of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The city is known for its beautiful lakes and parks, abundant fishing, hiking and biking trails, golfing, and community events.

Willmar has an increasingly diverse student population, according to its school district: 

  • Students are 42 percent Latinx/Hispanic, 36 percent white, 15 percent African American/Black, and 4 percent Asian.
  • All communications are sent out in four languages.
  • 22 percent of all district students are English learners.

Find out more about the population breakdown, median income, and other information.

Photo of Dr. Rick Wehseler

Contact Us

Rick Wehseler, MD
Program Director

Mollyanne Gardner
Program Administrator

Willmar Rural Residency Program
CentraCare - Willmar Lakeland Clinic 
502 2nd St SW
Willmar, MN 56201

Willmar Rural Student Opportunities


We welcome medical students from U.S. LCME-accredited or COCA-accredited medical schools for two- to four-week rotations.

For more information about medical student opportunities, contact Molly Gardner, Mollyanne.Gardner@centracare.com

A doctor in a white coat talking to a front desk worker at Willmar rural family medicine residency
Dr. Nelson leaning over a newborn and smiling at Willmar rural family medicine residency