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Office of Rural Programs


Program Description

What is RUOP III?

This is a six-credit elective course in community health that coincides with the RUOP clinical experience. This course fulfills UW SOM’s Independent Investigative Inquiry requirement.

Through community interviews and demographic analysis, you will identify a public health concern(s) and examine the issue within the context of your RUOP community. You will then look at the literature to see what interventions have proven to work in other communities. Finally, you will analyze the assets and challenges unique to your RUOP community to evaluate whether the researched interventions could be feasible solutions for the public health concern you identified.

Can students do RUOP without the III portion?

All TRUST students are expected to complete the RUOP III. There is no option of a clinical-only experience.

When can I do my RUOP?

RUOP rotations begin:

  • June for RUOP only student
  • July for RUOP III students

Most students will be notified about their dates by May. RUOP rotations follows the academic calendar and should not be scheduled during break periods.

Does my RUOP have to be four continuous weeks?

Yes, your RUOP must be four continuous weeks. Any extenuating circumstances that would prevent this would require advance permission from the Regional Clinical Dean, the RUOP Office, and the site.

Can I do RUOP and a Scholarship of Discovery?

No. Unfortunately, there is not enough time during the summer experience block to do both.

How can I learn more about anything related to RUOP?

We highly encourage you to attend an Info Session in the Fall of your first year in medical school, connect with your colleagues who have gone through the program, and read the student reflections. For more information contact or find a list of contacts in our office.

Does RUOP meet other program requirements?

Yes, it fulfills the program requirement for TRUST and may fulfill program requirements for the Pathways Program, see more info here.



How do I apply?

To apply to the program you will need to complete the online application. The online links will be available from December – early January.

What if I need to update my application after it is submitted?

The online application is designed to accept edits to your submission, please make your edits there if the application has not closed. Additionally, please email us at to inform us of any edits or concerns that you may have.

Will I be able to block out some dates that I cannot participate in RUOP?

No. All students who agree to participate in the program must be available to do their rotation.

Special circumstances will be considered. Please contact

What is the last day I can commit to RUOP?

The commitment date is the last day in February. We are not able to provide students with their placement location in advance of the commitment date.

Can I drop from RUOP once I commit to the program?

No. Each community placement takes RUOP and our partners several months of planning. After committing to RUOP, only under extenuating circumstances, will you be allowed to drop from the program. Learning about other summer opportunities or disappointment over your community placement will not be an acceptable reason for a late drop.

Do I still need to commit by February 28th if I am waiting on a non-UW program placement?

Yes. You will still need to commit to RUOP by the February 28th deadline. In some cases, that may require you to make the decision to commit to RUOP without knowing if the other program has accepted you. If you decline RUOP in hopes of getting accepted to another program and you end up not getting this opportunity, you can check back in with us about availability. We cannot guarantee your placement, but will make every effort to place you.

Do TRUST students need to apply?

Yes. The same timeline applies to TRUST students. TRUST students submit an abbreviated application.

Can I apply to multiple III programs?

You can apply to multiple III programs. If you plan to apply to Scholarship of Integration, you may NOT apply to any other program; the only exception is when the Scholarship of Integration is a program outside of the UWSOM.



How are placements made?

There are two steps to determining student placement:

On the application form, you will rank a list of six geographic WWAMI regions in order of preference. Based on regional capacity and your preferences the RUOP office will assign you to one of the six WWAMI regions.

After you have been assigned to a region, your application will be forwarded to the appropriate Placement Coordinator for that region. Your Placement Coordinators will review your application and consider your interests. They will then determine appropriate placement based on their preceptor availability for their region.

Who are the RUOP placement coordinators?

These are our regional partners who help with coordinating your placement in one of the six WWAMI regions (Eastern and Western WA, WY, AK, MT, ID). Your Placement Coordinator will inform you of your placement and discuss transportation and housing issues with you.

Do I get site preference if I am enrolled in a pathway?

Pathways may give credit to students participating in the RUOP III program. The RUOP III program attempts to place Pathway students in communities that allow them opportunities to further explore their areas of interest. However, due to site availability and/or other logistical considerations, this is not always possible. In these events, all Pathway programs have contingency assignments. Please check with your individual pathway program for details.

Do students get preferential placement in their foundation campus region?


Can I switch sites with a student or negotiate a different placement?


What happens if I don't get placed in my preferred community?

RUOP will do their best to place you in that specific community, but we cannot guarantee a placement. Students with this specific need should prepare a back up-activity in the event RUOP is unable to find a placement.

If I'm not from University of Alaska campus, do I have a good chance of being assigned there?

It is unlikely. Unless you have strong ties to the region, it is best if you do not rank Alaska first on your application. It is also unlikely for Alaska students to be placed in other regions.


RUOP Sites

Where are the RUOP sites?

RUOP sites are communities in any of the five WWAMI states: Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho.

Is there a list of RUOP sites?

No. Each year we recruit volunteer preceptors. Therefore we do not know the participating sites until late spring. Feel free to browse a list of sites from past years on the student resource page.



What type of housing is provided in RUOP?

Housing can include, but not limited to homestays, AirBnB, your own apartment, or a shared apartment with other students. We ask students to be flexible and prepared for various types of housing arrangements.

Do I need to find my own housing?

If indicated on your application, RUOP and regional partners will work to provide housing for you during the RUOP experience, at no additional cost to you.

Can I bring a family member?

RUOP supports bringing family with you on rotation. Placement Coordinators will attempt to make arrangements for your family. However, it will depend on what the community has available to donate. Therefore we cannot guarantee housing for family members. Whether or not donated accommodations for accompanying family are secured, RUOP is unable to provide reimbursement for any costs related to family accommodations and/or travel.

Will I have internet in my housing?

We do our best to find housing with internet, but in some cases there will not be internet in your home.  We ask students to be flexible and seek out creative solutions.  We also expect students to let us know if their assignments will be delayed to connectivity issues.

What if I have allergies or need other special housing accommodations?

RUOP will make every effort to accommodate students. Students will have the opportunity to describe any housing needs on their application.

Can I stay with friends or family during my RUOP?

Yes. Indicate on your application places you can stay during your RUOP.

Can I bring my pet cat or dog?

Pets are not allowed to accompany you on your RUOP.

Who is responsible for housing damages?

Students are responsible for any damages beyond the normal wear and tear to their housing arrangement.   Students should leave their housing clean and similar to how they found it.

Who notifies me about my housing?

The placement coordinator in that region you are assigned will contact you with this information in advance of your rotation.

What if I don't like the housing option offered to me?

Students are welcome to decline viable housing offered by RUOP. However, alternative housing will be at the students own expense.

What should I do if I have an issue with my housing once I am onsite?

Contact your regional placement coordinator.



Does RUOP provide transportation?

RUOP pays for your travel to and from the RUOP site. Your regional Placement Coordinator will reimburse student travel expenses. The program does not pay for travel during the RUOP rotation.

Do I need a car if I am going to a rural community?

Rural placements frequently work best with a car. Placements in Alaska are an exception to this rule.