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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


Welcome to the AHEC Rural Health Scholars Pathway!

Who we are:
A grant-funded (MassAHEC) pathway program compromised of an interdisciplinary community of graduate students, clinicians and faculty.

What we do:
Participate in a variety of rural health-related learning experiences taking place in the classroom, in the clinic and out in the community.  The pathway offers a mix of academic and social events, as well as clinical and project opportunities.

Recently students have:

  • volunteered on a CSA farm
  • practiced splinting, casting and other hands-on skills
  • completed summer and clinical placements on Cape Cod and the islands, The Berkshires, the Hill Towns, Maine, New Hampshire, Alaska and beyond
  • Learned about how various policies affect healthcare in small towns and rural communities

Activities & Opportunities:

A Look into the Lives of Navajo People in the 21st Century, by Tiffany Chen, MS4 and Jason Lau, MS4

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

Dr. Janet Fraser Hale is a professor of nursing and family medicine and community health and the Associate Dean for Interprofessional and Community Partnerships
in the Graduate School of Nursing of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  As a critical care nurse and subsequently as a family nurse practitioner in the military, much of her focus has been with cardiac patients and efforts towards interprofessional and patient education to support wellness, health promotion and disease prevention.  Since joining academia, she has been involved with interprofessional education initiatives with medical and graduate nursing students working with medically underserved patients and populations in primary care and community settings to promote health and wellness. For over 20 years, she has co-lead faculty working with both professions involved with community service-learning initiatives caring for some of the most vulnerable and diverse populations initially in Washington, DC and more recently in Worcester and Central MA.

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.