Exploring recent trends (2014–21) in preferencing and accepting Queensland medical internships in rural hospitals

McGrail, Matthew, Woolley, Torres, Pinidiyapathirage, Janini, Paton, Kath, Smith, Deborah, Brumpton, Kay, and Teague, Peta-Ann (2024) Exploring recent trends (2014–21) in preferencing and accepting Queensland medical internships in rural hospitals. BMC Health Services Research, 24. 236.

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Background: Medical internship is a key transition point in medical training from student to independent (junior) doctor. The national Regional Training Hubs (RTH) policy began across Australia in late 2017, which aims to build medical training pathways for junior doctors within a rural region and guide students, interns and trainees towards these. This study aims to explore preferencing and acceptance trends for rural medical internship positions in Queensland. Moreover, it focuses on internship preference and acceptance outcomes prior to and following the establishment of RTHs, and their association with key covariates such as rural training immersions offered by medical schools.

Methods: Data from all applicants to Queensland Health intern positions between 2014–2021 were available, notably their preference order and location of accepted internship position, classified as rural or metropolitan. Matched data from Queensland’s medical schools were added for rural training time and other key demographics. Analyses explored the statistical associations between these factors and preferencing or accepting rural internships, comparing pre-RTH and post-RTH cohorts.

Results: Domestic Queensland-trained graduates first preferencing rural intern positions increased significantly (pre-RTH 21.1% vs post-RTH 24.0%, p = 0.017), reinforced by a non-significant increase in rural acceptances (27.3% vs 29.7%, p = 0.070). Rural interns were more likely to have previously spent ≥ 11-weeks training in rural locations within medical school, be rurally based in the year applying for internship, or enrolled in the rural generalist pathway.

Conclusions: The introduction of the RTH was associated with a moderate increase of graduates both preferencing and accepting a rural internship, though a richer understanding of the dominant reasons for and against this remain less clear. An expansion of graduates who undertook longer periods of undergraduate rural training in the same period did not diminish the proportion choosing a rural internship, suggesting there remains an appetite for these opportunities. Overall, domestic graduates are identified as a reliable source of intern recruitment and retention to rural hospitals across Queensland, with entry to the rural generalist pathway and extended rural placement experiences enhancing uptake of rural practice.

Item ID: 82364
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1472-6963
Keywords: Internship, Rural workforce, Medical training, Junior doctors, Rural immersion, Graduate medical education, Training pathways, Distribution
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2024. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images orother third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2024 01:58
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420311 Health systems @ 100%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2002 Evaluation of health and support services > 200206 Health system performance (incl. effectiveness of programs) @ 100%
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