Graduate Certificate

The Graduate Certificate in Tribal, Rural, and Underserved Medicine offers a structured continuum of education for University of Utah medical students and formal academic record of coherent accomplishment in this growing field. Graduate Certificate awardees are required to complete a minimum of 16 academic elective credits within the program. All academic credits are can be applied to the elective credits necessary for completing the M.D. degree.


Currently, most models for health care delivery in the United States focus on urban-based teams of sub-specialists providing hospital care while primary care physicians provide community-based outpatient care to a diverse, geographically dispersed population with limited access to specialty or highly technical care2. However, in reality the role of the rural or remote physician goes well beyond provision of community-based outpatient care. Rural physicians are increasingly responsible for patients with needs often outside the scope of the urban primary care physician – providing emergency medical care, obstetric and gynecological service, simple surgeries and care of patients with complex medical needs. The growing opioid epidemic and the rise in mental health challenges requires additional skills as well.

Additionally, the rural and remote physician is also called upon to serve in leadership roles related the community health – providing technical assistance to address community health education and promotion needs, addressing systemic issues related to health care access, troubleshooting and addressing community health issues through quality and performance improvement and provision of leadership to allied health services and organizations locally, to name a few.

In short, the typical physician working in tribal, rural, and/or medically underserved communities is asked to serve many roles not typically required of physicians who practice in resource-rich urban or metropolitan environments. In order to better prepare future physicians to fill these roles, medical education must incorporate curricula and learning activities focused on the unique needs of these essential community leaders in health and health care delivery.

Utah is currently in the top quintile of states with a projected primary care physician shortage in 2025 and these shortages are particularly acute in areas that serve tribal, rural and/or medically underserved communities (MUC). The aim of the graduate certificate program is to prepare and encourage medical students training in Utah to choose residencies and careers in primary care that serve tribal communities, rural communities, and/or medically underserved communities (MUCs) after they graduate. This will be accomplished by supporting the development of medical school curricula, clinical training site partnerships, and faculty training programs, with the goal of educating medical students who are likely to choose career paths in primary care, especially for tribal communities, rural communities, and/or MUCs. 

Required Coursework & Recommended Schedule

Year 1 - Foundations of Tribal, Rural and Underserved Medicine

  • MD ID 6550: Introduction to Population Health in Rural United States (1 credit)
  • MD ID 6555: Rural, Tribal, and Underserved Health Care Systems, Delivery, and Resources (1 credit)
  • MDID XXXX: TRUE Immersion Summer Community Field Experience (1 credit)

Year 2 - Foundations of Community Health and Leadership

  • MD ID 6650: Applied Community Health and Leadership in Rural, Tribal and Underserved Settings (1 credit)
  • PBHLT 6640: Health Disparities and Public Health (1 credit)

Years 3 & 4 –

  • MD ID 6002: Virtual Care: Telemedicine for Future Providers (1 credit)
  • Rural, Tribal, or Medically Underserved Clinical Clerkship or Elective (min. 4 credits)

Year 4 – Applied Community Health and Leadership

  • MDID 6850: Community-Oriented Health Improvement Capstone Project (4 credits) 

Years 1-4 – Elective options (2 credit required)

  • MD ID 6002: Virtual Care: Telemedicine for Future Providers (1 credit)
  • MD ID 6003: Caring for the Underserved: Rural and Refugee Health in Utah (1 credit)
  • FP MD 7811: HPIH Principles of Integrative Medicine (0.5 credit)
  • FP MD 7812: HPIH Resilience in Healthcare (0.5 credit)
  • SURG 7101: Foundations in Value Driven Healthcare (0.5 credits)
  • SURG 7102: Strategies for Healthcare Improvement (0.5 credit)
  • PHS 6710: Introduction to Population Health 1 (0.5 credit)
  • PHS 6715: Introduction to Population Health 2 (0.5 credit)


Contact Us

Dave Sandweiss, TRUE Medicine Program Director

Olivia Spencer, Pre-Clinical Coordinator

Ty Dickerson, HRSA Program Director

Shelley Gabriel, HRSA Project Director

Edromar Undag, Administrative Assistant


  • University Of Utah School Of Medicine
  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) - Bureau of Health Workforce

This website is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $7 million with 13.6% financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government.