Open Access Research article

The influence of regional basic science campuses on medical students' choice of specialty and practice location: a historical cohort study

James J Brokaw1*, Christina A Mandzuk2, Michael E Wade3, Dennis W Deal1, Mary T Johnson4, Gary W White5, Jeffrey S Wilson6 and Terrell W Zollinger7

Author Affiliations

1 Office of Medical Student Affairs, Indiana University School of Medicine, 635 Barnhill Drive, MS-164, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202, USA

2 The EMMES Corporation, Rockville, Maryland, USA

3 Indiana State Department of Health, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

4 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Terre Haute, Indiana, USA

5 Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Evansville, Indiana, USA

6 Department of Geography, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, Indiana USA

7 Bowen Research Center, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Medical Education 2009, 9:29  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-9-29

Published: 6 June 2009

Abstract

Background

Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM) employs eight regional basic science campuses, where half of the students complete their first two years of medical school. The other half complete all four years at the main campus in Indianapolis. The authors tested the hypothesis that training at regional campuses influences IUSM students to pursue primary care careers near the regional campuses they attended.

Methods

Medical school records for 2,487 graduates (classes of 1988–1997) were matched to the 2003 American Medical Association Physician Masterfile to identify the medical specialty and practice location of each graduate. Multivariate logistic regression was performed to assess the effect of regional campus attendance on students' choice of medical specialty and practice location, while simultaneously adjusting for several covariates thought to affect these career outcomes.

Results

Compared to Indianapolis students, those who attended a regional campus were somewhat more likely to be white, have parents with middle class occupations, and score slightly lower on the Medical College Admission Test. Any such differences were adjusted for in the regression models, which predicted that four of the regional campuses were significantly more likely than Indianapolis to produce family practitioners, and that five of the regional campuses were significantly more likely than the others to have former students practicing in the region. When analyzed collectively, attendance at any regional campus was a significant predictor of a primary care practice located outside the Indianapolis metropolitan area.

Conclusion

Attending a regional campus for preclinical training appears to increase the likelihood of practicing primary care medicine in local communities.