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Union Health

The Mission of Union Hospital's Richard G. Lugar Center for Rural Health is to advance rural health through education, innovation, and collaboration.

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The Lugar Center works closely with its partners to recruit medical students and Family Medicine residents who have interests in rural practice, to train them in the details of rural medicine, and to assist them in establishing practices with resources to sustain rural healthcare delivery.

Residents and medical students are exposed to the various rural healthcare delivery methods through rotations in rural health clinics, community health centers, and critical access hospitals where they work closely with a multidisciplinary team that includes physician assistants, nurse practitioners, mental health counselors, social workers, allied health professionals, and local community leaders.

The Summer Hoosier Rural Preceptorship, launched in 1992, supports the Center's mission of preparing and training primary care physicians for successful rural practice. First year medical students are immersed in rural underserved communities in Indiana and Illinois and learn the rewards of delivering healthcare services in rural areas.

In 2008, the Lugar Center and the Union Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program collaborated with the Indiana University School of Medicine - Terre Haute to launch the Rural Medical Education Program (RMEP) in Terre Haute. This program graduated its first class of rural medical students in 2012 after four years of training within a curriculum focused on the unique aspects of rural medical care.


Innovation is a cornerstone of the Lugar Center's efforts to meet the needs of rural populations. The Center has designed and implemented numerous outcome-based projects aimed at advancing access to, and quality of, healthcare in rural areas. Examples include the creation of the Lugar Center's Telehealth and Innovative Technologies department and the Wabash Valley Rural Telehealth Network (www.ruraltelenet.org). 

The Lugar Center was also integral in the creation of the RHIC Simulation Center on the campus of Union Hospital. Union Hospital, Ivy Tech Community College -Wabash Valley, and Indiana State University have created a learning environment in which students from their campuses learn to work together to care for patients using real-life scenarios and life-like electronic "patients" that mimic actual human conditions. The Simulation Center enables the partners to consolidate resources, including programmable electronic mannequins, from each institution. This center is housed in the former intensive care unit in Union Hospital's West Building. Simulation allows students to learn the art and science of patient interaction, decision making and clinical care skills using scenarios that occur in the real world on simulators or "living-textbooks."



The Lugar Center serves as a catalyst for dialogue, collaboration, and action aimed at advancing rural health. Development of strategic relationships through partnerships with stakeholders aligns resources, builds stronger communities, and leads to opportunities and solutions to address barriers to access and availability.