Shaping medical student’s understanding of and approach to rural practice through the undergraduate years: a longitudinal study

Ray, Robin, Young, Louise, and Lindsay, Daniel (2018) Shaping medical student’s understanding of and approach to rural practice through the undergraduate years: a longitudinal study. BMC Medical Education, 18. 147.

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Background: Over the last two decades medical schools have increased rural practice learning opportunities for students in an effort to improve recruitment to the rural workforce. James Cook University’s (JCU) medical school was established in northern Australia in 2000 with a specific focus on meeting the health needs of people in rural and remote areas. As part of a longitudinal study this paper explores the situational and motivational learning factors contributing to the development of JCU’s medical students’ understanding of and approaches to rural medical practice.

Methods: After completing each consecutive, compulsory rural clinical placement in Year Two, Four and Six of their MBBS program, JCU medical students were asked to complete a survey about their rural learning experiences. The survey consisted of a combination of single choice, Guttman and Likert scales and open response questions. Data from two open response questions were coded and thematically analysed. Content analysis enabled the predominant value of each theme to be calculated.

Results: Collation of the survey data revealed 680 answers to both questions resulting in 1322 comments for analysis. Nine themes were categorized into clinical practice issues and person issues. The evolution of scope of practice across the years, the importance of inspirational mentors, access to urban areas and a sense of community were key findings. Positive rural clinical placement experiences inclusive of supportive ongoing learning opportunities and rural community living contribute positively to medical students’ interest in future rural medical practice. However, the ability to work for periods of time in both rural and urban settings suggested a possible need for a new additional model of practice.

Conclusion: Clear links between a sense of community and belonging both professionally and socially as well as combined rural-urban practice options were important factors in the education and development of future rural practitioners. Ways to establish and support practice models incorporating both rural and urban locations needs to be investigated.

Item ID: 54303
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1472-6920
Keywords: medical education, medical students, rural clinical clerkship, model of practice, undergraduate, career choice
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Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2018 04:47
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420399 Health services and systems not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9201 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) > 920199 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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