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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.

There are two curricular track options to choose from that will fulfill the III requirement.

What are the two track options?

Intervention Analysis is a theoretical exercise comparing and contrasting the feasibility of a possible intervention to public health issues present in the individual RUOP community.

Health Education requires working alongside a community partner to develop and distribute content aimed at informing the community about a pressing health issue.

Can students do RUOP without the III portion?


When can I do my RUOP?

RUOP rotations begin:

  • Earliest start date: July 1, 2024
  • Latest start date: July 26, 2024

Please remember the clinical rotation for RUOP is 4- continuous weeks. Most students will be notified about their dates by mid-April (depending on region). Students in Washington will be asked to identify their own RUOP rotation dates following site assignment. RUOP rotations scheduled during the summer break week require advance permission from the RUOP Office, the site, and the student who will be impacted.

Does my RUOP have to be four continuous weeks?

Yes. 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 a RUOP clinical and another III program?

Currently, Idaho is the only region that is offering a pilot hybrid Scholarship of Discovery / RUOP experience. For Idaho Foundations students, this would mean completing your Independent Investigative Inquiry (III) scholarship requirement through Scholarship of Discovery and also committing to a four-week clinical rotation during the summer in a rural or underserved setting that builds upon your SoD project.

Before applying for a hybrid SoD/RUOP clinical rotation, Idaho students should consider:

  • To be considered, students will need to apply to both the RUOP & SoD programs AND be an Idaho Foundations student.
  • RUOP rotations are four consecutive weeks. Anticipate spending 30-35 hours per week in clinic.
  • Students will need to commit to the program by January 19th, 2024

For students outside of Idaho, please talk to your Lead Research Coordinator at your Foundations campus about the best research opportunity for you. You are also welcomed to reach out to Toby Keys ( ) with questions.

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. In order to take advantage of this, please save your application to generate a return URL and return code. 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?

Yes, however, please keep in mind that site placements are determined based on student availability. If you are unable to begin your RUOP rotation between the dates of July 1 – July 26, 2024, perhaps another Triple I program would be better suited for your schedule. Remember, a clinical rotation is 4 continuous weeks. For example, if a rotation begins July 22, 2024 it ends on August 19, 2024.

All students who agree to participate in the program must be available to do their rotation once assigned.

Please contact if special circumstances are at play (e.g., your wedding, military commitment, etc.).

What is the last day I can commit to RUOP?

The commitment date is January 19, 2024. Students will be informed of their regional/state placement prior to this date but will not know the specifics of where they are going when they are asked to commit to the program.

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 January 19th if I am waiting on a non-UW (or GHIP) program placement?

Yes. You will still need to commit to RUOP by the January 19th 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 will do our best to find a placement for you, however we cannot guarantee a placement.

Do TRUST students need to apply?

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

What if I need special accommodations?

If you are a student who has, or think you may need DRS accommodations for the clinical, academic or housing environments of RUOP, you must reach out to Disability Resources for Students ( within two weeks of applying to RUOP (or by the deadline of Jan. 12, 2024). Please contact Kowan Russell, Senior Access Coordinator in Disability Resources for Students at to schedule an appointment to discuss your needs. If you choose to not disclose information about your disability/specific needs by the deadline, we cannot guarantee your accommodations will be considered or implemented during the placement process, which could result in you being unable to participate in RUOP.


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. The Placement Coordinator will review your application and consider your interests. Coordinators will then determine appropriate placement based on their preceptor availability for their region. Preferences and priorities such as being matched with a preceptor of a particular identity or working with a specific population are given particular consideration, though there may not be placement options that match your desired experience.

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. We encourage students to keep their expectations open and adopt a flexible attitude when it comes to site placements.

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 without similar strong ties. This is primarily because of the high costs associated with travel and housing.


RUOP Sites

Where are the RUOP sites?

RUOP sites are rural and urban under-resourced 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 if I want to work with a specific preceptor?

Please include that preceptor’s contact information (Name, email, phone, clinic name, etc.) in your application and explain your rationale. RUOP sites must meet certain requirements in order to be eligible for a rotation so a Placement Coordinator will reach out to the preceptor if they feel like the site meets program requirements. Please do not attempt to arrange your own rotation or reach out to previous RUOP sites to arrange your own rotation. RUOP sites are built on relationships and back-channel communication can confuse and frustrate our partners.



What type of housing is provided in RUOP?

Housing is provided for students who will be placed in rural locations or students who will be traveling outside of their Foundations region. Housing can include, but not limited to living with a community host, to clinic-provided shared apartments, to living with your preceptor. In some situations, an Air BNB or hotel may be secured, however, please keep in mind that this is not the preferred method of housing. We ask students to be flexible and prepared for various types of housing arrangements including shared housing or homestays.

When would housing not be provided?

RUOP does not provide housing to students placed in the same city as their Foundations site (i.e., Seattle students placed in Seattle; Spokane students placed in Spokane, Bozeman students placed in Bozeman).

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. However, if you decline the identified housing, RUOP will not cover the cost of any alternative housing option.

If you have family or other donated housing you can take advantage of during the RUOP experience, please mention that on the RUOP application. Please be aware, that you may be assigned a site based on this information, so take some time to consider if residing at this location during your RUOP rotation is truly feasible for you.

Can I bring a family member?

Please know that we cannot guarantee housing for family members as this is dependent upon what community housing is available. 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 due to connectivity issues. In these situations, please remember that there is likely internet connectivity issues for other folks in the community beyond yourself, and that this may give insight into the challenges that community members face.

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! Please indicate on your application places you can stay during your RUOP. But remember, you may be assigned a site based on what you include, so take some time to consider whether this truly is a reasonable housing option for you (and your friends/family).

Can I bring my cat or dog?

Pets are not allowed to accompany you on your RUOP. Much of the housing we are able to find in our communities do not allow pets, including hospital apartments.

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 the 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 student’s 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 your Foundation campus to your RUOP site (1 round-trip stipend). Additionally, if you are commuting more than 40 miles one-way to your RUOP site, you are eligible for additional reimbursement. The program does not pay for any other travel during the RUOP rotation, including daily commuting less than 40 miles one-way.

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.