It’s small-town living for the next four weeks for 13 U of A medical students in their second year.

Preclinical Networked Medical Education is a new program designed to expose medical students to rural environments early and frequently, in the hopes of encouraging them to establish their practice in a rural setting.

The students will receive lectures via vodcasting and will convene with their fellow students once a week using a video conferencing system.

“It’s interesting to see the students excited, the communities are excited,” said project manager Shirley Auvigne.

“Hoping the technology will all work, that’s our main concern.”

Eleven students from the University of Calgary will also take part in the program, with postings in Lethbridge and Olds.

“It’s humbling to see others take the step to try a new program,” said Dr. Jill Konkin, associated dean of rural health, who is responsible for the program idea and its implementation.

“This is the next step in including medical students in the general health-care environment.”