1) you have to pick the right people
2) You have to educate them in the right environment
3) You have to provide an early nurturing practice environment
Fortunately, we already have a model for #1 in Alabama. Over 20 years ago, what is now the University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences started putting together programs to try and make things better. Eventually these became, among others, the Rural Health Scholars Program for high school students and the Rural Medical Scholars Program for those who need a helping hand to get into medical school.
The Tuscaloosa News has a very good article on these programs today (found here). The article follows the story of several folks from rural Alabama. It talks about the many obstacles faced by these students. It also offers this from a third year resident who is soon to enter practice
“Growing up in Greensboro, I know there is limited health resources. I’ve seen people come and go because of it,” she said. “For me, it’s a win-win. I get to be with my family and it gives me an opportunity to give back to the community that has supported and been behind me. I’m proud to be able to take care of my community, the people I know, the people that watched me grow up. I also would like to serve as an example to the young people there. Show them it is possible to do this.”
Clearly, they are picking the right people.