The Rural and Underserved Service Track (TRUST)


The Rural and Underserved Service Track (TRUST) is a collaboration between Binghamton University’s Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Department of Social Work, and SUNY Upstate Medical University and the community. The main goal of this unique, competitive, co-curricular track is to develop a group of healthcare professionals dedicated to caring for rural, underserved populations through interprofessional teamwork.

By providing direct patient care in free clinics, promoting health literacy/cultural competency, and participating in community education/ outreach, TRUST Scholars collaboratively develop and deliver much needed care to underserved, rural populations. Each year a group of students from the four professional schools are selected and admitted into the program (approximately seven-eight/discipline). In addition, Rural and Underserved Health Scholars participate in conferences focusing on health policy and advocacy activities affecting underserved populations. TRUST requirements focus on the following competencies: 

  • Cultural and linguistic differences               
  • Professional and ethical conduct                  
  • Multiple constituencies                                
  • Population health                                                                                   
  • Healthcare financing and management
  • Interprofessional teamwork and leadership
  • Community resources
  • Resource constraints
  • Quality improvement and patient safety
  • Health policy
  • Advocacy       

TRUST is a two-year “add-on” program that runs concurrently to the main curriculum within the four participating schools and provides its scholars with enhanced learning opportunities. Mastery of the competencies is accomplished via community-based patient care, advocacy and research activities as described above as well as active participation at quarterly learning retreats.

At each learning retreat, students are introduced to different vulnerable patient populations to enhance their knowledge and understanding of healthcare issues and barriers specific to that population. Populations covered include: children and youth, the elderly, the homeless, immigrants and refugees, members of the LGBTQ+ community, those with substance abuse history and the incarcerated/ex-offenders. A unique component of TRUST is the strong connection with community partners such as community health centers and primary care organizations. TRUST Scholars are mentored by both faculty and community-based practitioners and all learning retreats feature community clinicians, clients and social service agency representatives. All learning experiences have an interprofessional emphasis.

TRUST is also now a micro-credential at Binghamton University, awarding this distinction to each student who completes all of the requirements of the program. 

Students and faculty talk about TRUST

TRUST Requirements

Required activities for TRUST Scholars

1. Attend and participate in the four Learning Retreats held throughout the academic year. Retreats are held in person at alternating locations between Syracuse and Binghamton. Attendance is expected at all and retreats will rotate to ensure equity.

Attendance at the learning retreats is required. TRUST Scholars who must miss a learning retreat (e.g., due to illness) should contact their faculty members as soon as they are able to schedule a make-up session. Note that the make-up learning retreat will not provide the same experience as we cannot recreate the full interprofessional atmosphere or ask the guest speakers (clinicians and community members) to come back for the make-up retreat.

Learning Retreat topics

Year 1

Trust Welcome Event
noon-4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023
Location TBA

Exploring Rural and Urban Health
1-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023
Binghamton University

Delivering Services to Refugees
1-5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023
SUNY Upstate Medical University

The Aging Population and Healthcare
1-5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024
Binghamton University

Working with Patients with Substance Use Disorder
1-5 p.m. Sunday, April 14, 2024
SUNY Upstate Medical University

Year 2 (may adapt as the curriculum progresses)

Accessing Reproductive Healthcare
Date/time TBA in fall 2024
Binghamton University

Providing Person-centered Care to People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Date/time TBA in fall 2024
SUNY Upstate Medical University

A Veteran's Perspective in Healthcare
Date/time TBA in spring 2025
Binghamton University

Delivering Appropriate Care to the LGBTQ+ Population
Date/time TBA in spring 2025
SUNY Upstate Medical University

Learning Retreat schedule

Each learning retreat will be four hours in duration and begin with a guest and/or faculty speaker. After the speaker session, the interprofessional cohort will be assigned a clinical case with questions designed to facilitate interprofessional work. After the case, all students will learn a clinical skill that may be later applied to their experiential education.

2. Participate in at least (“bare minimum”) five community outreach activities sponsored by the Rural and Underserved Service Track per year (see below)

Must be at least two activities per semester (i.e., cannot do all five in one semester). The minimum two clinical activities must be completed by the end of the last day of class.

Students are not allowed to miss classes, switch lab or discussion sections, or come late or leave early in order to participate in a community outreach activity. The only exceptions to this rule are the TRUST learning retreats as those are a required component of TRUST and occur at set times twice a semester.

Alignment with Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) 

The goal of this program is to align with the Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Scholars program for recognition and future sources of funding.

AHEC Scholars is a program for health professions students interested in supplementing their education by gaining additional knowledge and experience in rural and/or underserved urban settings. This is a longitudinal program with interdisciplinary requirements to implement a defined set of clinical, didactic and community-based activities. All experiential or clinical training will be conducted in rural and/or underserved urban settings.

Program duration is two years and each year includes the following for a total of 160 hours:

  • 40 hours community-based, experiential or clinical training in rural and/or underserved area
  • 40 hours didactic education (focused on six Core Topic Areas), with learning retreats accounting for 16 hours/year
    • Interprofessional education
    • Behavioral health integration
    • Social determinants of health
    • Cultural competency
    • Practice transformation
    • Current and emerging health issues

Interested in applying to the TRUST Track?

Applications for the 2023-24 academic year for the TRUST Track are due Friday, Sept. 1, 2023.