The Impact of a Rural Training Track on Medical Students Specialty Choice

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South Dakota Medicine: The Journal of the South Dakota State Medical Association





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BACKGROUND: Compare the expectations and outcomes of students involved in rural medical training versus those of urban trainees. METHODS: Survey items relating to primary care interest were added to program evaluation surveys already being sent at the beginning and end of the primary clinical year. Students from the graduating class of 2016 and the class of 2017 responded to the surveys (N=115). Responses from students trained in rural sites were compared with students trained in medium or large communities. For the purposes of the survey, primary care was not specifically defined and was open to participants' interpretation. Primary care is commonly thought of as the medical care from the doctor who sees a patient first and provides treatment or decides the other specialist care that the patient may need. Primary care specialties can include family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology. RESULTS: Most students enter their primary clinical year undecided about specialty choice and preferred practice location. At the end of the primary clinical year, most students have decided on a specialty and most report wanting to practice in communities similar to where they trained during that year. Before the primary clinical year student attitudes toward primary care are not significantly different based on selected training site. However at the end of the primary clinical year, students who had been trained in small communities were significantly more likely to choose primary care compared with students trained in medium to large communities. CONCLUSIONS: For students who begin the primary clinical year undecided regarding specialty choice, and practice location, the community size of the training site plays a large role in the decisions they will make. A majority of students trained in small communities chose to go into primary care and practice in small communities.


Medical Education



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