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Targeting Rural Health Needs

The University of Missouri is a land-grant university, meaning that MU Extension is charged with enacting a federally mandated mission to carry the benefits of university research to all the state’s citizens. A critical part of this mission is to raise the standard of health care for rural communities. Rural Missourians bear the brunt of state health care shortages and rural residents are significantly more likely to die earlier from accidents and disease than urban counterparts. Much of this inequality is based in physician shortages, which are predicted to worsen as the current population of rural doctors ages.

Dr. Michelle Kenney in white doctor's coat standing next to farm gate
Dr. Michelle Kenney, trainee in rural residency program at MU School of Medicine

The NextGen Initiative aims to close the health care gap by prioritizing approaches that will bring new technology and expertise to rural communities. Our efforts are led by the MU School of Medicine’s Rural Track Pipeline Programs, which are already expanding physician training and placement in rural towns across Missouri. In 2019, these programs were awarded nearly $5 million by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration — the largest grant for rural health care in the School of Medicine’s history. Our rural health care outreach efforts are expanding in parallel with the NextGen Initiative. UM System researchers, clinicians and community specialists are addressing health care disparities from multiple angles, from training and deploying more skilled doctors and specialists for careers in rural communities to leveraging our partnerships with Siemens Healthineers and the Roche NAVIFY™ Tumor Board to establish new diagnostic methods and expertise in isolated areas.