The Rural Physician Associate Program (RPAP) at the University of Minnesota Medical School was founded in 1971 by Dr. John Verby with state funding to increase the number of primary care physicians in rural Minnesota. The Rural Physician Associate Program (RPAP) now has 1,600+ alumni. 

On October 1, 2020, the 50th class of the Rural Physician Associate Program (RPAP) began their nine-month training in communities across Minnesota. Check out some highlights from the past 50 years below!

Our History


I was welcomed into a community of clinicians in Hibbing. I was invited into the rural family medicine group, pediatrics, internal med, and also surgery, orthopedics, radiology and even pathology. My preceptor had me spend time with a variety of wonderful clinicians who wanted to teach and give me experience. My surgical, procedural and outpatient clinical experiences were well beyond what traditional medical tracks would entail, which improves the confidence needed to think you could be “on your own” in rural practice. In residency, and even later in practice many of these experiences were of value. Being in a rural community during a local economic crisis gave me insights to relate to a variety of patients through my career."

- Jeanne Hesse, RPAP alumni, Hibbing, 1980

Make a Gift

Dr. Tom Birkey '61 created a scholarship for RPAP students after serving as an RPAP preceptor in Montevideo for decades. Join him in supporting RPAP student scholarships with a gift today.

Give to RPAP