Medical students from urban backgrounds who spend a year at a rural clinical school are almost four times more likely to be practising in a rural area up to 10 years after graduation, compared with their urban-background counterparts who do not spend time in a rural setting in their undergraduate degree, according to recent research published in the MJA.
According to MJA Insight, the study found that among a cohort of 1017 University of WA graduates who completed year 5 medical school between 2002 and 2009, 258 were RCSWA graduates, including 195 from urban backgrounds. Of these, 14.9% were working as rural doctors in 2013 compared with just 3.8% of controls.
Commenting on the research in MJA Insight, Associate Professor Gabriel Shannon, adjunct associate professor at the University of Sydney’s School of Rural Health said that enticing city-raised medical students to rural clinical schools was likely to be the most effective strategy in shifting some of the medical workforce from urban to rural areas.
We certainly should be encouraging those of rural origin to come to rural clinical schools, but we’re probably going to get the most bang for our buck by supporting urban students to come to rural clinical schools”, Professor Shannnon said. “[Urban students] are more likely to change their minds about their career pathway and commit themselves to a rural practice, which they may not have been thinking about before they came to a rural clinical school.