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Can J Rural Med. 2008 Spring;13(2):73-9.

The difference between medical students interested in rural family medicine versus urban family or specialty medicine.

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  • 1Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



To determine how first-year medical students interested in rural family medicine in Canada differ from their peers.


From 2002 to 2004, first-year students (n = 2189) from 16 classes in 8 Canadian medical schools ranked intended career choices and indicated influences on their choices using Likert scales. We used t tests and chi2 tests to determine demographic influences and factor analysis, and we used analysis of variance to examine associated attitudes.


Of the 1978 surveys returned (90.3%), 1905 were used in the analysis. Rural family medicine was ranked first by 11.1%, varying from 4.7% to 20.2% among schools. Students interested in rural family medicine were more likely to have grown up rurally, graduated from a rural high school and have family in a rural location than others (p < 0.001). They were more likely to be older, in a relationship, to have volunteered in a developing nation and less likely to have university-educated parents than those interested in a specialty (p < 0.008). Attitudes of students choosing family medicine, rural or urban, include social orientation, preference for a varied scope of practice and less of a hospital orientation or interest in prestige, compared with students interested in specialties (p < 0.001).


Medical schools may address the rural physician shortages by considering student demographic factors and attitudes at admission.

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