Frequently Asked Questions

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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 great learning experience.

Did you know...?

  • You don’t need to have your whole life plan figured out - our interview process is an opportunity to learn more about your options and decide if the program is right for you. We also work with you during the interview process to help find an option that suits your geographic needs, learning style, and career aspirations.
  • RPAP supports student choices in selecting a wide variety of medical and surgical specialties, and students successfully match in a wide variety of specialties. About half of our graduates practice in urban areas and half in rural areas.
  • You’ll have student cohorts that you see regularly in person and online, work closely with RPAP faculty throughout the year (including six site visits), and will be back on campus for class events throughout the year.

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.

How are students selected?

Students apply to the program in May-August 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.

What is the site placement process like?

We consider a variety of factors when we work on student placements to find a great match, including your clinical interests, career goals, and geographic preferences. You will have the opportunity to list sites you are interested in on your application, and we will discuss these and other options during your interview. Site placement is an ongoing conversation between you and the RPAP team. We can't guarantee any specific site placement, but we approach each placement individually and do our best to take your preferences into account. 

When is the stipend paid out?

Each RPAP student receives a $16,000 tuition offset for participation in RPAP. $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. Students who are receiving service commitment scholarships that already cover tuition/fees and living stipend (such as Health Professions Scholarship Program, Indian Health Service, or National Health Service Corps) may not be eligible to receive the RPAP funding. If you have any questions, contact the Medical School Office of Financial Aid,

What about taxes?

The community portion of the stipend is subject to social security, federal and state taxes. Taxes may or may not be withheld prior to being dispersed to you. 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.

My partner and I are applying to RPAP. Will we be placed near each other?

We have often been able to work with medical student couples who want to be placed near their partner. Please let us know early in the application process if you are interested in this option. We can't guarantee any specific site placement, but it's most helpful to know early if you and your partner are interested in being near each other during RPAP.

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, complete online curriculum, 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.

To which residencies/specialties do students match?

Most RPAP students report that having participated in RPAP was a distinct advantage when applying to residencies. In the past 5 years, 100% of RPAP students have matched into their top specialty. Historically, RPAP graduates have matched into the following specialties: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Medicine-Pediatrics, Surgery (General & Sub-specialist), OB/GYN, Psychiatry, Emergency Medicine, Anesthesiology, Interventional radiology, Dermatology, Neurology, Ophthalmology, Orthopedics, Otolaryngology, Pathology, Physical Medicine, Radiology, and Urology.

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.

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.

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 course credits. You will complete core clerkship requirements for emergency medicine, OB/GYN, pediatrics, psychiatry, surgery, the outpatient selective and family medicine.

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

Yes. Program alumni find they have plenty of flexible time in their fourth year for elective courses related to their chosen specialty,  to prepare for applications, interviews, and to take time off. 

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 will complete several core courses during the program, and students must successfully complete the requirements for each. Grading policy is consistent with the Medical School requirements and follows either the Pass/No Pass or 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.