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Interest in rural clinical school is not enough: Participation is necessary to predict an ultimate rural practice location

Playford, Denese, Puddey, Ian B.
The Australian journal of rural health 2017 v.25 no.4 pp. 210-218
cohort studies, college students, employment, labor force, multivariate analysis, rural health, working conditions, Western Australia
OBJECTIVE: Rural exposure during medical school is associated with increased rural work after graduation. How much of the increase in rural workforce by these graduates is due to pre‐existing interest and plans to work rurally and how much is related to the extended clinical placement is not known. DESIGN: This cohort study compared the employment location of medical graduates who professed no rural interest as undergraduates (negative control), with those who applied but did not participate in Rural Clinical School of Western Australia (RCSWA) (positive control), and those who applied and participated in RCSWA (participants). PARTICIPANTS: All 1026 University of Western Australia students who had an opportunity to apply for a year‐long rotation in RCSWA from 2004 to 2010, and who had subsequently graduated by the end of 2011, were included. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Graduates’ principal workplace location (AHPRA, Feb 2014). RESULT: The three groups differed significantly in their graduate work locations (χ² = 39.2, P < 0.001). In multivariate analysis, only being of older age at graduation (OR 2.28 (95% CI 1.40, 3.72), P = 0.001), being from a rural background (OR 2.99 (95% CI 1.85, 4.85), P < 0.001), being a recipient of a Medical Rural Bonded Scholarship (OR 3.36 (95% CI 1.68, 6.73, P = 0.001) and actually participating in the RCSWA remained significantly related to rural work (OR 3.10 (95% CI 1.95, 4.93), P < 0.001). CONCLUSION: After accounting for other factors relating to rural work, RCSWA graduates were three times more likely to work rurally than either control group. These data suggest that RCSWA has a significant independent effect on rural workforce.