Qualitative Inquiry for Rural Programs – Webinar

When: Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017

Time: 1:00 – 2:00 pm (EST)


Qualitative methods are easy to apply in rural settings – for program evaluation, program improvement, research, or other scholarly work. And in some cases, qualitative approaches are better for these purposes than are quantitative ones. Rural programs usually involve small numbers of learners and are often uniquely adapted to a specific rural community. Aggregating numbers across many programs to achieve statistical power in a quantitative study may overlook important elements of training in specific rural places. These elements may be integral to program outcomes and may more easily be demonstrated through qualitative inquiry.

Many physicians and educators, urban or rural, lack research training, especially in qualitative methods. This lack of formal training does not preclude them from using these methods, especially with the help of a more experienced coach or mentor. This webinar is intended to introduce faculty, learners, and others to qualitative methods in research relevant to rural health professions education and training and encourage their use.

Following this webinar, participants will be able to:

  1. Articulate the difference between “quantitative” and “qualitative” research methods
  2. Describe at least two examples of qualitative research applied by peers in rural health professions education and training
  3. Further explore qualitative research methods and initiate a qualitative research study in their own program
  4. Join the Rural PREP community of practice in rural primary care health professions education and training


In preparation for the webinar, please explore either of the following:

  1. Read a brief article:
    Arianne Teherani, Tina Martimianakis, Terese Stenfors-Hayes, Anupma Wadhwa, and Lara Varpio (2015) Choosing a Qualitative Research Approach. Journal of Graduate Medical Education: December 2015, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 669-670. https://doi.org/10.4300/JGME-D-15-00414.1
  2. Listen to a 13-minute podcast by KeyLIME (Key Literature in Medical Education)Lara Varpio, Associate Professor and Associate Director of Research, Graduate Programs in Health Professions Education st Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MDLength: 12:54 min

Other resources from Dr. Varpio:

      1. As a good starting point for those trying to work in qualitative research:  Qualitative Research in Counseling Psychology: A Primer on Research Paradigms and Philosophy of Science
      2. To help qualitative researchers answer questions they commonly get from medical educators: JGME Qualitative Rip Out Series (See below)
      3. If you’re looking to learn more about grounded theory: AMEE Guide #70
      4. To learn about the guiding principles that you should consider before conducting qualitative research: Standards for reporting qualitative research: a synthesis of recommendations.
      5. Finally, she lists two great articles on methods and methodologies, both quantitative and qualitative that are used in modern medical education research:  Beyond a good story: from Hawthorne Effect to reactivity in health professions education researchand Shedding the cobra effect: problematising thematic emergence, triangulation, saturation and member checking

Explore one or more other items in the JGME Qualitative Rip Out Series

Watling C, Cristancho S, Wright S, et al. Necessary groundwork: planning a strong grounded theory study. J Grad Med Educ. 2017;9(1):129–130.
Citation | Full Text | PDF (108 KB) 

Balmer DF, Rama JA, Martimianakis MA, et al. Using data from program evaluations for qualitative research. J Grad Med Educ. 2016;8(5):773–774.
Citation | Full Text | PDF (113 KB) 

Baker L, Phelan S, Snelgrove R, et al. Recognizing and responding to ethically important moments in qualitative research. J Grad Med Educ. 2016;8(4):607–608.
Citation | Full Text | PDF (109 KB) Supplemental Material

Nimmon L, Paradis E, Schrewe B, et al. Integrating theory into qualitative medical education research. J Grad Med Educ. 2016;8(3):437–438.
Citation | Full Text | PDF (110 KB) | Supplemental Material

Paradis E, O’Brien B, Nimmon L, et al. Design: selection of data collection methods. J Grad Med Educ. 2016;8(2):263–264.
Citation | Full Text | PDF (110 KB) | Supplemental Material

Wright S, O’Brien BC, Nimmon L, et al. Research design considerations. J Grad Med Educ. 2016;8(1):97–98.
Citation | Full Text | PDF (112 KB) | Supplemental Material

Varpio L, Artino AR Jr, The Qualitative Collaborative. Answering the mail: replying to common questions about qualitative inquiry. J Grad Med Educ. 2015;7(4):667–668.
Citation | Full Text | PDF (109 KB) | Supplemental Material

Teherani A, Martimianakis T, Stenfors-Hayes T, et al. Choosing a qualitative research approach. J Grad Med Educ. 2015:7(4):669–670.
Citation | Full Text | PDF (111 KB) | Supplemental Material 

Additional Resources to be suggested by Drs. Stutzman, Patterson, Hancock, Schmitz


Christine Hancock

Christine Hancock, MD, MS
Practicing physician, Sea Mar Community Health Centers, Bellingham, WA

Christine Hancock, MD, MS, grew up in Lone Pine, CA, a small desert town of 2,000. She has been practicing full-spectrum family medicine at Sea Mar Community Health Centers in Bellingham, WA since 2013 and works with Western Washington University as an adjunct faculty member in the Community Health Program. She was a 2016 National Rural Health Association Rural Health Fellow. Her research focuses on rural provider recruitment and retention.

Kim Stutzman

Kim Stutzman, MD
Rural Program Director, Family Medicine Residency of Idaho

Dr. Stutzman grew up in Northern Michigan and trained at the University of Michigan School of Medicine. She completed a residency at Family Medicine Spokane. After a year at the University of Washington as a fourth-year chief resident she settled in White Salmon, Washington in a small rural practice. After 12 years of wonderful, broad-spectrum, rural, community-based care she moved to Boise in 2007 to pursue teaching at the residency program. She has special interest areas in rural medicine, medical student teaching, and training the next generation of rural family doctors.