The Endowment in Rural Family Medicine is focused exclusively on building the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho (FMRI) rural training program. A fully funded endowment will ensure residency rural rotations and rural training tracks have a sustainable funding stream in perpetuity.
FMRI currently has budgeted funds for a family physician to serve as the Program Director of Rural Family Medicine, Dr. Dave Schmitz. Providing opportunities for residents to serve in rural communities, however, is extremely expensive. The goal of the endowment is to create a sustainable fund to provide for rural rotations by residents, fund research, and pay for the necessary travel and living expenses for both residents and faculty to travel to rural parts of Idaho to maintain and participate in training sites.
The rural reputation of the residency has grown significantly through Dr. Schmitz tireless efforts to expand Idaho rural community access to family medicine. Under Dr. Schmitz leadership rural training sites have grown from 6 to 28 and the residency has added a rural training track in the Magic Valley. Dr. Schmitz regularly travels throughout Idaho visiting rural training sites to assure that both the rural physician preceptor and the FMRI medical resident are satisfied with the experience provided at a site.
There are significant costs attached to sending residents to these locations and for the infra-structure support to ensure that each site provides a high quality training experience. Besides the obvious costs of housing and travel, there is the lost opportunity cost of having residents out of clinic where they generate revenue for the program by seeing patients. The requirement to serve in rural Idaho has proved extremely effective. Idaho currently ranks 8 in the nation in terms of retention of physicians in Idaho.
The current approach to funding these activities is through short-term grants that can end at any time. Because a rural Physician Workforce is essential to the long term economic success of Idaho, the FMRI Board of Directors determine that the funding for the rural training program should not be left to the unpredictable fluctuations of intermittent grants. The Endowment in Rural Family Medicine is intended to provide a sustainable funding source for family medicine workforce training.