School of Medicine

Department of Family Medicine

Rural Scholar Track

Louisiana is largely a rural state, with 57 of the state's 64 parishes and 32 percent of its population classified as rural. Rural areas do not have enough physicians, resulting in inadequate access to medical care for residents. In addition, the number of physicians across the state nearing retirement age is growing significantly, while the number of students choosing primary care careers is declining. Research has shown that physicians from rural areas or who received part of their education or training in rural settings are more likely to set up practices in rural areas. Using this information as a foundation, the LSUHSC Rural Scholar Track (RST) was created.

The Rural Scholar Track at LSUHSC School of Medicine—New Orleans was created to directly address this dire physician shortage. The RST is designed to recruit highly motivated students who are committed to practicing primary care medicine in rural areas of Louisiana.


Admission to the Rural Scholar Track is open to Louisiana residents. Interested students must first apply and be accepted into the School of Medicine before being considered for the RST. All standard admissions criteria and policies apply.

Once accepted into the School of Medicine, applicants will be further evaluated for consideration for the Rural Scholar Track. Up to 8 students will be accepted in each entering class. Students interested in the RST should complete an application and return it to the Primary Care Programs office at

While the majority of students are accepted into the RST as incoming first years, students may apply to the RST at any point during their first two years of medical school training. If you are interested in joining the Rural Scholar Track, please reach out to us at


  • A rural medical school curriculum track for those interested in practicing family medicine, general internal medicine, general pediatrics, general medicine-pediatrics, or general obstetrics-gynecology in a rural or underserved region of Louisiana after training.
  • The purpose of Rural Scholar Track is to encourage service in Louisiana’s rural and underserved areas and to address the state’s shortage of primary care physicians available to rural and vulnerable populations.
  • Participation in the RST includes a full medical school tuition exemption for up to four years of medical school. In return, students have a contractual post-training commitment to practice primary care in a rural or underserved region of Louisiana for 15 months for each year that a full tuition waiver is received.
  • RST students participate in unique rural primary care curricular and extracurricular experiences, including the Rural Medicine Interest Group, the AHEC Scholar Program, a summer elective during the L1 year, and a Primary Care elective during the L2 year.
  • Rural scholars complete required clinical training in the 3rd and 4th years in Lafayette, Louisiana. During this time, students also attend one full day per week in a longitudinal experience with a primary care preceptor during the L3 year and a portion of the L4 year. Preceptor days are flexible from week to week depending on individual clerkship schedules.
  • Students in the Rural Scholar Track must be residents of Louisiana, and are not eligible for the Primary Care Scholar Program.
  • A signed contract commits the RST awardee to practice in a rural or underserved area in Louisiana. Practice location and type are approved by the RST Advisory Committee in order to fulfill the terms of the post-training practice commitment.
  • Rural Scholar Track students maintain contact with the RST Program throughout medical school, residency and the years of practice for which they are obligated to serve out the terms of their RST contract.
  • Rural Scholar Track students are subject to the rules outlined in the RST contract for medical services after graduation from residency. Default on the terms of the RST contract is subject to a financial penalty.

Rural Scholar Track students spend their required third and fourth year rotations in Lafayette, LA where they are supervised by RST faculty and preceptors, and rotate through the following services. More information on our Lafayette campus is available here.

Internal Medicine 12 weeks
Family Medicine 4 weeks
OB/GYN 6 weeks
Surgery 6 weeks
Pediatrics 8 weeks
Neurology 3 weeks
Psychiatry 6 weeks
Elective in a SURG Subspecialty 3 weeks



New Orleans

2021 Perdido Street
CALS 4th Floor, Suite 4354
New Orleans, LA 70112

Paula Rhode Brantley, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Director of Primary Care Programs
Paula Brantley

Nicole L. Matherne

Primary Care Coordinator 
(504) 568-6098

Nicole Matherne


2390 W. Congress Street
Lafayette, LA 70506

Linda K. Oge', M.D.
Section Chief, Department of Family Medicine
Clinical Assistant Professor
Linda Oge

Elissa P. Williams, M.S.

UME Clerkship Coordinator

(337) 261-6204

Elissa Peterson