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About Us

2018 graduate photo, from left to right: Linda Cragin, Elizabeth Tammaro, Luke Latario, Rebecca Engell Kasper, Jessica Fortin, Kristen Bevington, Suzanne Cashman, Steve Martin

Rural Health Scholars’ Mission:

To identify and nurture the interest of medical and nursing students who would like to pursue a clinical career in a rural or small town setting. 

To help participating students acquire the skills and develop the attitudes necessary to become effective clinicians for rural and small town communities.

To expose students to the important linkages between clinical practice and public health in developing healthy rural communities. 

To foster relationships among student Scholars and introduce them to others in the medical, public health, and governmental sectors who are working to meet the needs of rural communities.

About the MassAHEC Network:

The MassAHEC Network is a statewide program hosted by the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at UMass Medical School and aims to develop a strong, collaborative approach to addressing healthcare workforce needs by nurturing the interest of health professions students in primary care and practice in rural and underserved areas. Participants include students of the UMass School of Medicine (SOM) and Graduate School of Nursing (GSN), and students from academic programs in each AHEC center’s service area. In Worcester, MassAHEC faculty is intertwined with the SOM and GSN, serve on a variety of committees, and teach across the schools and community. In addition to the Rural Health Scholars Pathway, MassAHEC is developing new Urban Health Scholars Pathway, supports several primary care electives and collaborates with the GSN Central Massachusetts Advanced Nursing Education Academic Practice Program (CMAAPP), and Commonwealth Medicine, the consulting division of the medical school. The three main goals of the AHEC program have expanded to include Diversity, Distribution and Practice Transformation.


 Suzanne Cashman, ScD, MS 

Formally trained in health services research, evaluation and administration, Suzanne Cashman has spent the past forty years of her professional career teaching graduate courses to a wide range of health professions students, conducting community-based evaluation research, developing partnerships aimed at helping communities improve their health, and advancing interprofessional education. Suzanne is Professor and Director of Community Health in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. In 2000, shortly after coming to UMMS, Suzanne founded and began co-leading UMass’s Rural Health Scholars Pathway. Currently, she serves as the Mass AHEC Network’s evaluation specialist.

Linda Cragin, MS

The director of the MassAHEC Network, a federal grant in the UMass Department of Family Medicine and Community Health from the HRSA Bureau of Health Workforce; UMass has maintained the grant since 1977.  AHECs (Area Health Education Centers) are a national network of academic-community partnerships responding to the challenge of improving access to quality health care for underserved populations by supporting community based learning opportunities for health professions students. 

Janet Hale, PhD, RN, CS, FNP

 Steve Martin, MD, MEd

Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and boarded in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine.  After four years with the National Health Service Corps in a community health center and federal prison medical center, Steve’s clinical site since 2009 has been the rural Barre Family Health Center.  


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