Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I do RPAP?

If you have a strong interest in family medicine or primary care or have considered future practice in a rural community, RPAP provides continuity experience that helps you decide if that's right for you. If you are a student who learns best independently with one-to-one teaching and hands-on experiences, RPAP is a good alternative learning experience.

How are students selected?

Students apply to the program in November-December of the second year of medical school and are interviewed by an RPAP faculty member who looks for academic ability, communication skills, interest in primary care practice or rural medicine, and assesses the applicant's ability to succeed in an independent learning environment.

How are sites assigned?

Factors considered include geographic needs, practice goals, and preceptor and student personalities. Teaching sites vary from year to year. Every effort is made to make the experience enjoyable as well as educational for all involved.

When is the $20,000 paid out?

Each RPAP student receives $16,000 for participation in RPAP - that equals half of your tuition for your third year!  $8,000 is deducted from the student's University tuition twice - once in August and once in January - for a total reduction in your tuition of $16,000. The community site also pays the student a stipend of $4,000 OR provides free housing. The stipend is paid directly to the student. These payments are made as long as students are meeting RPAP program requirements. If you have any questions, contact Kristin Basballe in the Medical School Office of Financial Aid,, 612-624-7675.

What about taxes?

Social security, federal and state taxes should be deducted before the community portion of the stipend is paid. Book and tuition expenses should be deductible from the total RPAP compensation (state and community) provided. Please check with the IRS if you have further questions.

How will I compare with students doing traditional courses?

Typically, RPAP students have performed more procedures and seen more total patients. RPAP students must meet the same requirements for patient experience and take the same shelf exams as other students. They perform as well as other students on OSCEs, board, and shelf exams.

Will I have access to learning resources?

Each site will provide Internet access, and RPAP students can access all resources provided by the Biomedical Library.

If I participate in RPAP, how will that affect my residency choices?

Most RPAP students report that having participated in RPAP was a distinct advantage when applying to residencies. Being familiar with the program, many family medicine residency programs know RPAP students usually are functioning at a higher level than their peers. Approximately 75% of students who participated in RPAP get their first choice in residency programs. Students applying for other residency specialties report that having done RPAP was a definite plus.

What types of cases will I see?

Students participate in everything including routine clinic physical exams, acute and chronic disease care, office-based procedures, hospital and nursing home care, emergency room, and operating room care. Specialty care varies depending on the community, but students see patients of all ages with many different diagnoses and stages of disease.

Is RPAP available only to those students who have an interest in family medicine or primary care medicine?

While a majority of RPAP students do go into family or primary care medicine specialties, RPAP supports students' choices in selecting any medical specialty they wish. Participation in RPAP often solidifies a students' initial specialty interest, but students may discover an interest in a specialty they had not previously considered. Former RPAP students encompass a wide variety of specialties such as anesthesia, urology, orthopedic surgery, general surgery, radiology, opthalmology, emergency medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, and obstetrics/gynecology.

Am I required to practice in a particular area after residency?

We hope that students develop or reinforce an interest in rural primary care, but no commitment is required to participate in RPAP.

Do my electives after RPAP have to be hands-on electives?

No, RPAP meets the requirement for hands-on electives.

Can I take other elective or required courses on campus while enrolled in RPAP?

No. RPAP appears on your schedule and transcript as a course (INMD 7200) and other courses cannot be scheduled into the 36-week time frame. Students may not take time off from RPAP to pursue other non-RPAP courses and then return to their teaching site.

Can I leave RPAP early to return to campus to pursue other elective or required courses?

No. Only under the most unusual of circumstances are students allowed to leave early. Any request to do so must be approved by the RPAP director and Medical School Years 3&4 curriculum coordinator.

Can I take an international elective after I return from RPAP?

Typically students have created a schedule between RPAP and the rest of their third and fourth year that allows them room for an international or other "away" elective, depending on the approval of the medical school.

How will participating in RPAP affect my overall medical school schedule?

RPAP provides you with 36 elective course credits. Depending upon your teaching site, up to 24 of these credits may be converted to required course credits by completing several required courses at a site.

Will I be able to fulfill all my requirements and graduate on time?

Yes. However, careful planning is strongly encouraged to make sure you meet the Medical School graduation requirements for elective and required course credits.

Can I get specific specialty-related experience after RPAP?

RPAP students may want or need to take a sub-internship or specialty experience after RPAP for the clinical experience or in anticipation of residency application. With good planning, there is enough time to schedule the needed courses in the fourth year.

How are RPAP students evaluated and graded?

Students are evaluated by preceptors and RPAP faculty throughout the year.  Each student's RPAP schedule will list the courses they will complete on RPAP.  For each course on their schedule, students must successfully complete the requirements for each. Grading policy is consistent with the Medical School requirements and follow the Honors, Excellent, Satisfactory, and No Pass designations.

How many students can participate in RPAP each year?

There are usually between 30 and 40 students, about half from the Duluth campus and half from the Twin Cities campus. We have about 40 teaching sites every year.

How many RPAP students become family physicians?

About two-thirds of each RPAP class chooses family medicine; about 80 percent go into primary care specialties.

How many RPAP students practice in Minnesota/rural communities?

Two-thirds of RPAP students return to Minnesota to practice and 40% practice in a rural setting.

CONTACT Rural Physician Associate Program (RPAP)

A-675 Mayo Memorial Building

Phone: 612-624-3111
Fax: 612-624-2613