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Aust J Rural Health. 2007 Oct;15(5):285-8.

Where is the evidence that rural exposure increases uptake of rural medical practice?

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Monash University, School of Rural Health, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia.


Australian Government initiatives to address medical workforce shortages in rural Australia include increasing the intake of students of rural background and increasing exposure to rural medicine during training. Rural-orientated medical training programs in the USA that selectively admit students from rural backgrounds and who intend to practise as family practitioners have demonstrated success in increasing uptake of practice in rural/underserved areas. However, in examining the specific contribution of rural exposure towards increasing uptake of rural practice, the evidence is inconclusive, largely due to the failure to adjust for these critical independent predictors of rural practice. This paper identifies this evidence gap, examines the concept of rural exposure, and highlights the need to identify which aspects of rural exposure contribute to a positive attitude towards rural practice, thereby influencing students to return to rural areas. The cost of rural exposure through student placements is not insignificant, and there is a need to identify which aspects are most effective in increasing the uptake of rural practice, thereby helping to address the medical workforce shortage experienced in rural Australia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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