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Open Access Research article

Additional years of Australian Rural Clinical School undergraduate training is associated with rural practice

Lesley Forster1, Hassan Assareh12, Lisa D Watts1 and Craig S McLachlan1*

Author Affiliations

1 Rural Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia

2 Simpson Centre for Health Services Research, Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia

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BMC Medical Education 2013, 13:37  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-37

Published: 7 March 2013

Abstract

Background

To understand the influence of the number of years spent at an Australian rural clinical school (RCS) on graduate current, preferred current and intended location for rural workforce practice.

Methods

Retrospective online survey of medical graduates who spent 1–3 years of their undergraduate training in the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Rural Clinical School. Associations with factors (gender, rural versus non-rural entry, conscription versus non-conscript and number of years of RCS attendance) influencing current, preferred current and intended locations were assessed using χ2 test. Factors that were considered significant at P < 0.1 were entered into a logistic regression model for further analysis.

Results

214 graduates responded to the online survey. Graduates with three years of previous RCS training were more likely to indicate rural areas as their preferred current work location, than their colleagues who spent one year at an RCS campus (OR = 3.0, 95% CI = 1.2-7.4, P = 0.015). Also RCS graduates that spent three years at an RCS were more likely to intend to take up rural medical practice after completion of training compared to the graduates with one year of rural placement (OR = 5.1, 95% CI = 1.8-14.2, P = 0.002). Non-rural medicine entry graduates who spent three years at rural campuses were more likely to take up rural practice compared to those who spent just one year at a rural campus (OR = 8.4, 95% CI = 2.1-33.5, P = 0.002).

Conclusions

Increasing the length of time beyond a year at an Australian RCS campus for undergraduate medical students is associated with current work location, preferred current work location and intended work location in a rural area. Spending three years in a RCS significantly increases the likelihood of rural career intentions of non-rural students.

Keywords:
Undergraduate medical education; Rural medical education; Rural clinical school; Rural exposure; Medical workforce; Logistic regression models