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Population-based Urban and Rural Community Health (PURCH)

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The Population-based Urban and Rural Community Health (PURCH) Track is patient-centered and integrated within the community. It focuses on population health, healthcare disparities and health issues specific to urban and rural communities.

The PURCH track augments the core UMMS curriculum with an emphasis on population health, healthcare disparities and health issues specific to urban and rural communities.

PURCH is a community of students, faculty, and community members who share a passion to improve community health by addressing healthcare disparities.

PURCH Gets You Out of the Classroom, Into the Community

"PURCH adds another layer to my education—one not available in a classroom setting."

—Kathryn Norman, Class of 2021

Fast Facts about PURCH

PURCH is NOT just for those interested in primary care.
You’ll benefit from this innovative program whether your interest is primary care, specialty care, academia, or any other medical career.

PURCH matriculates approximately 25 students a year.
Now in its fourth year, PURCH has a total of 96 medical students.

PURCH is based at Baystate Health—one of the largest academic health systems in New England. 
Your time will be split between the two campuses.PURCH campus grid

Please visit the PURCH website for program details. Be sure to check out the PURCH Class Profiles to meet the students and see what they are doing.

How to Apply to the PURCH Track:

Application to the PURCH Track at UMass Medical School (UMMS) is made through the secondary application process. All applicants must select whether or not they wish to apply to PURCH.

Be sure to review our application process for additional details.

PURCH Interview Process:

Those applying to the PURCH Track will be reviewed for both the PURCH Track and the traditional MD program. MD/PhD applicants may also choose to be considered for PURCH.

If you are invited to interview, you will participate in a 2-day interview process that involved one day at the main campus in Worcester and another day at our regional campus in Springfield, UMMS-Baystate. MD/PhD applicants interviewing for PURCH will have a third interview day at our main campus in Worcester as well.

At each campus, you will participate in the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI), meet first and second year medical students and/or residents, receive an overview of UMMS and the PURCH Track, and take a tour of each campus. 

PURCH Selection Process:

There are approximately 25 spots available in the PURCH Track each admissions cycle.

For your PURCH application to move forward you must:

  • Confirm your interest in matriculating into the PURCH Track within ten days of your PURCH interview
  • Perform satisfactorily in the MMI at both campuses

Acceptance to the PURCH Track is a joint acceptance between your degree program (MD or MD/PhD) and the PURCH Track.

If you are not accepted into the PURCH Track, you will still be considered for the traditional MD program. The same goes for MD/PhD applicants applying to PURCH.

PURCH Track Policies:

Be sure to review the policies on opting in or out of the PURCH Track before applying.

Please direct your questions about PURCH to the UMMS Office of Admissions at or 508-856-2323.


PURCH Track Policies

Interested applicants are able to opt-in to the PURCH track even if they have already submitted their application. Applicants who applied to the PURCH track during the secondary application and wish to opt-out can do so, if they choose. Details on how to opt-in or opt-out of the PURCH track are outlined below.

A. Opting-in to the PURCH Track:

Opting-in prior to matriculation

~ PURCH is a Track within the SOM. Hence, there is only one offer of acceptance into the SOM. As PURCH is a SOM Track, applicants to PURCH have two interview days: one at Baystate Medical Center with the PURCH faculty and the other at the main campus of the SOM. An applicant accepted to the PURCH Track will matriculate in that tract unless a request to opt out is granted (see below).

~ An applicant may choose to apply to the PURCH Track after having submitted an application to the School of Medicine (SOM). The applicant must contact the SOM Office of Admissions ( or 508-856-2323) to update their PURCH secondary application to reflect their interest in applying to PURCH. The applicant must submit secondary application materials required by the PURCH admissions process.

Opting-in after matriculation

~ An accepted applicant who did not apply to the PURCH Track and has matriculated into the SOM as an MD or MD/PhD student may apply to join the PURCH Track. The reasons for the request must be made in writing to the Vice Provost for Student Life by the end of the first week of the academic year.

~ Part of the decision process depends on the capacity of the PURCH Track to accept more students. The process for approval for transfer to PURCH is as follows:

  • Student submits request in writing to the Vice Provost for Student Life (VPSL)
  • Student’s LC Mentor emails VPSL indicating that they have discussed the request with the student and that they support the request.
  • The VPSL presents the student’s request to the Associate Deans for Undergraduate Medical Education (ADUME) at UMMS Worcester and UMMS-Baystate, the Learning Communities Co-Directors and the Brightwood Learning Community Head of House (HoH), who collectively make up an ad hoc committee to respond to requests to opt in/out of PURCH. The student’s written request and the LC Mentor email of support are provided to the ad hoc committee.
  • If the committee approves the request, the proposal is brought to the Senior Associate Dean for Educational Affairs for final approval.

B. Opting-out of the PURCH Track:

Applicants may opt out of the PURCH Track through one of the following procedures and situations:

 Opting-out prior to matriculation:

~ An applicant who has not yet been accepted into the SOM may elect to opt out of the PURCH Track after the interview/visit to UMMS and Baystate and still be considered a candidate for SOM admission. The applicant must contact the SOM Admission Office ( or 508-856-2323) to request this change in application status within 7 days of their PURCH Track interview. The applicant must state the reason(s) for the request in writing to the SOM Admissions Office.

~ An applicant who has already been accepted to the PURCH Track may later request to opt out of PURCH prior to matriculation and still remain in the SOM. The applicant must make the request and the reason(s) for the request in writing to the SOM Admissions Office ( or 508-856-2323). Decisions to grant such a request are made after discussions with the SOM- Baystate Admissions Subcommittee.

 Opting-out after matriculation:

~ A student who has matriculated as a PURCH Track student may request to opt out of the PURCH Track and remain a student in the SOM. The reason(s) for the request must be made in writing to the Vice Provost for Student Life by the end of the first week of the academic year. The process for approval of a transfer out of PURCH following matriculation is the same as the process outlined above for opting-in to PURCH after matriculation.

C. Timing of Transfers in and out of PURCH:

 The PURCH Track is a longitudinal experience with integrated threads in the curriculum that are specific to the track. Additionally, students in the PURCH Track develop long-term mentoring and career development relationships with their LC Mentors. As such, transfer requests (in and out) must be thoughtfully considered and articulated with clear reasoning. These requests will only be entertained at specific times during the curriculum, to facilitate student progress and ensure student success within the PURCH Track curriculum.

Any request to opt in or out of PURCH must be made in writing with calendar year deadlines as noted in the full policy. Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis following the guidelines set out above. Any student who is approved to opt out of PURCH for the CCE and/or AS year(s) would complete clinical rotations and required AS courses at Baystate.


  • At all transition points, students must articulate a clear reason for requesting the change
  • Entry/exit from PURCH cannot be related to mentor issues
  • Life-changing events may lead to change at other points than above, on a case-by-case basis
  • Flexibility is important in particular for students admitted late off the wait list

Revised and approved 4/16/18


PURCH Class Profiles

Explore the class profiles of the PURCH track