CU2RE Primary Care Pipeline Program helps address primary care shortage in rural and underserved areas

The pipeline program is designed to help undergraduate students from Alabama and neighboring states with pre-medical education and service-learning opportunities to encourage their interest in primary care and future practice in underserved urban and rural areas.
Written by: Caroline Newman
Media contact: Anna Jones

CU2RE logo StreamThe University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Comprehensive Urban Underserved and Rural Experience, or CU2RE, program has launched the CU2RE Primary Care Pipeline Program. The pipeline program is designed to help undergraduate students from underserved and rural communities in Alabama and neighboring states who have the passion to address and meet the primary care needs of their communities. Specifically, the program aims to increase the preparedness of undergraduate students from medically underserved and rural communities to successfully enter medical school and pursue a career as a primary care physician.

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, 62 of Alabama’s 67 counties have a shortage of primary care physicians. To maintain current rates of utilization, Alabama will need an additional 612 primary care physicians by 2030, a 23 percent increase compared to the state’s current 2,646 PCP workforce, according to the Robert Graham Center.

The program admitted its first cohort last month, welcoming 13 undergraduate students who are interested in careers in medicine. Eight students currently attend UAB and will join students from Oakwood University, Alabama A&M University, Alabama State University, Huntingdon College, and Samford University.  

“I look forward to an enthusiastic and energetic group of students who are eager to dive in and engage in all the activities,” said Sameera Davuluri, M.D., program director and assistant professor in the UAB Department of Family and Community Medicine in the Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine. “The program has summer and longitudinal activities, which are being uniquely designed and facilitated to the undergraduate students. We are committed to delivering the best experience to students, and we anticipate students will enjoy being a part of the program.”

Davuluri believes primary care providers are the backbone of health care and that programs like the CU2RE Pipeline Program will make it easier to funnel more candidates into medical school from rural or urban underserved backgrounds.  

“Getting into medical school can be a daunting task, so we want to ensure these students who are interested have the resources they need to succeed,” Davuluri said. “Through this program, we hope to highlight the importance of primary care providers and help guide future generations to pursue their dreams of going to medical school.”

Learn more about undergraduate degrees at UAB here.

The program is open to sophomores and juniors who are enrolled in a four-year degree program and interested in applying to medical school. After being accepted into the program, students will be able to access the tools needed for a successful medical school application, such as opportunities to tour medical facilities and shadow primary care providers, educational experiences and guided discussions, mentorship from current medical students, and more.

“Our pipeline program will ensure that even more students interested in medical careers will have access to mentorship and resources,” said Adrienne Fowler Payne, program director for CU2RE. “Each of our programs creates opportunities to address the primary care practitioner shortage in our state, and we look forward to working with our new group of pipeline students beginning this summer.”

For many students coming from underserved backgrounds, the challenges and rigor of a medical education can be hard to navigate without support. The pipeline program will provide that support, in the form of mentorship from current medical students and faculty members, along with resources and training that can help students prepare for their next steps in education.

Applications are currently closed, but the program will begin accepting applicants for its next cohort in early 2023. Visit the program’s webpage to learn more.