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

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

After graduation this spring, 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,” Rob 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 Rob 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.

Rob said 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,” Rob 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.”