A group photo of this year's Rural Medical Scholars

UA’s Rural Medical Scholars Program Adds 10 Students

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Ten students studying to become physicians with plans to practice in rural Alabama communities were recently accepted to The University of Alabama’s Rural Medical Scholars Program for the 2020-21 academic year.

The Rural Medical Scholars Program, part of UA’s College of Community Health Sciences, is a five-year medical education program that leads to a medical degree. The program includes a year of study, after students receive their undergraduate degree, and leads to a master’s degree in rural and community health and early admission to the UA School of Medicine.

The 2020-21 class includes Brooks Bergman, of Killen; Jackson Broadfoot, of Hartselle; Devin Dobbins, of Flat Rock; Taylor Golden, of Florence; Stewart Gwin, of Gallion; Kayla Hazelwood, of Cropwell; Abye Nelson, of Woodstock; Boyd Price, of Clanton; Bethany Sparks, of Phil Campbell; and Matthew Tackett, of Pickensville.

Students spend their first two years of medical school at the School of Medicine’s main campus in Birmingham and return to CCHS for their third and fourth years of medical school – the clinical training years.

The Rural Medical Scholars Program is exclusively for rural Alabama students who want to become physicians and practice in rural communities. It has been cited nationally as a model initiative. To date, it has placed 75 physicians into practice in rural Alabama.

The program is part of the college’s efforts to address the shortage of primary care physicians in Alabama, particularly in rural areas.

“Alabama is a disproportionately rural state, and medical education programs that develop rural physicians are vital,” said Dr. Richard Friend, dean of the college. “At CCHS, we have been and will continue to address these workforce needs. We are dedicated to rural health – it is a key part of our mission.”

A number of current CCHS faculty are graduates of the Rural Medical Scholars Program, including Dr. Drake Lavender, assistant professor of family, internal, and rural medicine, and director of CCHS Rural Programs.


Bryant Welbourne, UA Strategic Communications, bryant.welbourne@ua.edu