Rural outreach programs for medical students

Added May 13, 2020

Citation: Johnson GE, Wright FC, Foster K. The impact of rural outreach programs on medical students’ future rural intentions and working locations: a systematic review. BMC Medical Education 2018; 18: 196

What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic is placing a strain on healthcare systems and healthcare workers. Existing research into the use of rural educational programs within medical education may provide information to help policy makers to deal with shortages of trained healthcare professionals in rural and remote locations.

In this systematic review, the authors searched for research examining the evidence for rural placement programs within medical education and subsequent workforce intentions and employment outcomes. They restricted their search to studies published in English between 2005 and 2017. They included 62 studies, which were from Australia (35 studies), Canada (5), Democratic Republic of the Congo (1), New Zealand (2), Thailand (1) and USA (18).

What was found: Most studies reported that an organised, well-funded, rural placement or rural clinical school program increased rural intentions and actual graduate rural employment among medical students.

Medical students who did some of their training in rural placements were more likely to intend to work, or to start work in rural environments.

Medical students who had completed rural placements reported increased interest in rural health medicine.


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