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Rural health professions education


Guest Editors:
Ian Couper: Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Davis Patterson: University of Washington, USA

Submission Status: Closed   |   Submission Deadline: 19 April 2024


BMC Medical Education called for submissions to our Collection on rural health professions education. Rural communities face unique challenges in accessing quality healthcare due to shortages of healthcare providers, skill gaps, and limited access to resources. Addressing these challenges in clinical learning environments and beyond is key in helping rural healthcare facilities to match the efficacy of those in urban communities.

Meet the Guest Editors

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Dr Ian Couper: Ukwanda Centre for Rural Health, Department of Global Health, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Since 2016, Dr Ian Couper has served as Director of the Ukwanda Centre for Rural Health and as a Professor of Rural Health within the Stellenbosch University Department of Global Health, following nearly fourteen years at the University of the Witwatersrand and the North West Provincial Department of Health.

He is a family physician and past chair of the Working Party on Rural Practice of the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA). He is African section editor of Rural and Remote Health, and an associate editor of BMC Medical Education. He was elected a Member of the Academy of Science of South Africa in 2021.

Dr Davis G. Patterson: WWAMI Rural Health Research Center, University of Washington School of Medicine, USA

Davis Patterson, PhD, is a sociologist and Research Associate Professor in the University of Washington (UW) Department of Family Medicine in Seattle, Washington.

He is Director of the WWAMI Rural Health Research Center and Deputy Director, Health Equity, in the UW Center for Health Workforce Studies. His research seeks to inform policy to improve rural and under-resourced populations’ access to healthcare. His work focuses on the health workforce; examining educational pathways to prepare, recruit, and retain health care practitioners; and innovative workforce models to achieve health equity.

About the collection

BMC Medical Education called for submissions to our Collection on rural health professions education. Rural communities face unique challenges in accessing quality healthcare due to shortages of healthcare providers, maldistribution of health professionals, skill gaps, and limited access to resources. The aim of this collection is to highlight research that focuses on developing strategies to improve the rural healthcare force by addressing the specific needs and challenges of rural communities.

We define "Rural Health Professions Education" as all aspects related to the education, training and development of healthcare workers in and/or for rural communities.

The WHO guideline on health workforce development, attraction, recruitment and retention in rural and remote areas (2021) makes 17 Recommendations related to rural health workforce, of which 10 are directly or indirectly related to the education of rural health professionals. While noting the significant increase in research since the first global policy recommendations were produced in 2010, the updated guideline notes the need to expand the evidence base to include all rural health occupations, a range of sociodemographic contexts, vulnerable groups, low- and middle-income countries, and non-English speaking communities. Research on the effectiveness of interventions, progress towards equity, and the role of rural health teams is also highlighted. Given the significant educational focus in the WHO guideline, and the impact of health professions education on the rural health workforce, it is important to focus efforts on expanding the evidence available on this subject. It is hoped that this collection will play a role in encouraging that expansion.

This collection thus seeks to explore various aspects of rural health professions education for all health occupations, including but not limited to:
   •  Strategies to recruit and retain healthcare professionals in rural areas
   •  Innovative models of rural health professions education and training
   •  Development of rural health professions education pathways
   •  Ecosystem conditions and requirements to support rural health professions education
   •  Capacity-building to develop the existing rural health workforce
   •  Community-engaged, immersive, and contextually and/or culturally responsive models of rural health professions education
   •  Impact of rural health professions education on rural health outcomes
   •  Strategies to promote interprofessional collaboration in rural healthcare settings
   •  Addressing the social determinants of health in rural communities through health professions education

In addition to original research articles, this Collection welcomed case studies of models and programs implemented for the benefit of rural healthcare education that have been successful.


Image credit: © whitemay / Getty Images / iStock

  1. Social accountability is increasingly integral to medical education, aligning health systems with community needs. Universitas Pattimura’s Faculty of Medicine (FMUP) enhances this through a curriculum that pre...

    Authors: Farah Noya, Sandra Carr and Sandra Thompson
    Citation: BMC Medical Education 2024 24:526
  2. The participation and success of university health students in rural areas is critical in addressing the maldistribution of the rural health workforces internationally. Particular attention to the experiences...

    Authors: Claire Quilliam, Nicole Crawford, Carol McKinstry, Alison Buccheri and Sara Brito
    Citation: BMC Medical Education 2024 24:163
  3. The field of point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) has advanced in recent decades due to the benefits it holds for medical providers. However, aspiring POCUS practitioners require adequate training. Unfortunately, ...

    Authors: Joshua I. Johnson, Heather Beasley, Derek Southwick, Allie M. Lords, Ross Kessler, Michael E. Vrablik and Russell T. Baker
    Citation: BMC Medical Education 2024 24:16
  4. The current shortage of primary care doctors and nurses is causing difficulties in replacement, and this shortage is expected to increase. This situation is more pronounced in rural environments than in urban ...

    Authors: G. Tort-Nasarre, Josep Vidal-Alaball, M. J. Fígols Pedrosa, L. Vazquez Abanades, A. Forcada Arcarons and J. Deniel Rosanas
    Citation: BMC Medical Education 2023 23:662

    The Correction to this article has been published in BMC Medical Education 2023 23:823

Submission Guidelines

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This Collection welcomes submission of Research articles. For the purposes of this Collection, case studies should be submitted as Research articles in our submission system. Comment articles will be considered at the discretion of the Editor. Should you wish to submit a different article type, please read our submission guidelines to confirm that type is accepted by the journal. Before submitting your manuscript, please ensure you have read our submission guidelines. Articles for this Collection should be submitted via our submission system, Snapp. During the submission process you will be asked whether you are submitting to a Collection, please select "Rural health professions education" from the dropdown menu.

Articles will undergo the journal’s standard peer-review process and are subject to all of the journal’s standard policies. Articles will be added to the Collection as they are published.

The Guest Editors have no competing interests with the submissions which they handle through the peer review process. The peer review of any submissions for which the Guest Editors have competing interests is handled by another Editorial Board Member who has no competing interests.