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Fam Med. 2011 Sep;43(8):556-9.

Influence of a rural family medicine rotation on residency selection: MS3 versus MS4.

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Department of Family Medicine, University of Nebraska, Omaha, NE 68198-3075, USA.



Many family medicine educators feel that a required clinical rotation in family medicine has a positive influence on medical students' selection of family medicine residencies. We investigated the effect of a rural family medicine rotation on students' residency choices and examined the differences between a third-year and a fourth-year rotation.


We surveyed 1,260 students before and after they participated in a required rural family medicine rotation.


The rotation had a small positive effect on student interest in family medicine. Over 20 years, there was a net gain of 4.7% (93 students) from before to after the rotation. Moving the rural rotation from the MS4 to the MS3 year resulted in a significant decline in the number of students who switched their preferences toward family medicine and ultimately matched to a family medicine residency.


When the rotation occurs in the third year, there is more time following the rotation for other influences to exert an impact on a student's specialty choice, resulting in a small "bleed" away from family medicine. It might be useful to develop programs that continue to pique the interest in family medicine during their fourth year.

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