UK HealthCare

UK Grad Ready for Next Steps to Become a Well-Rounded Rural Physician

RPLP student Rob Brooks
This weekend, Rob Brooks and his fellow RPLP medical students will graduate as part of the UK College of Medicine Class of 2022. Photo by Jorge Castorena.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 11, 2022) Rob Brooks is from Bedford, Kentucky, a town of fewer than 600 people in Trimble County. He grew up knowing that rural areas like his hometown are typically underserved in regard to health care, so he planned to become a doctor who could be part of the solution.

Through the University of Kentucky College of Medicine Rural Physician Leadership Program (RPLP), Brooks received two years of education at UK’s large academic medical center in Lexington followed by onsite rural medicine experience and training in Morehead.

After graduation this weekend, he’ll return to Lexington to advance his training in UK’s internal medicine residency program, with a focus on primary care.

“I’ve always wanted to do rural medicine, and I think a good way to do that is through primary care,” Brooks said. “I’m completely excited to be staying at UK. I’m happy to be matching into a great place to learn. But I’ve also really enjoyed the people.”

There’s a key benefit to the educational path Brooks is following. Through RPLP, he spent his last two years of medical school immersed in a rural community, building bonds with patients and assessing the health care needs of a small town. But during residency, he will spend his first years as an official doctor in a health care hub. As a Level 1 trauma center, UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital sees patients with a variety of illnesses and conditions.

He says the overall experience will be unparalleled.

“I want to make sure that I’ve seen every different patient case or situation that might walk through the door,” Brooks said. “That way, whenever I see a patient in the future in a rural area, I know how to handle it.”

He knows residency will be challenging, but he said his love for medicine will carry him through the rest of his training.

His advice for future medical students is to make sure they share that passion for medicine. While he always knew he wanted to be a doctor, that desire was cemented when he shadowed health care professionals before he attended medical school.

“You see a lot of different patient cases that can tug at your heartstrings. You’re going to put a lot of time and effort,” he said. “But this career is also very rewarding.”

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.