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Rural Physician Training Programs Can Inspire Future Rural Practice

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After medical school students spent a summer practicing in a rural community, they were more likely to enter family practice residency training and begin their medical careers in a rural location, according to a recent study.

The study, published in Academic Medicine, looked at the University of Missouri School of Medicine's Summer Community Program, part of the school's Rural Track Pipeline Program. Program participants spend four to eight weeks training in a rural community in the summer between their first two years of medical school.

As part of the study, researchers interviewed 229 program participants from 1996 to 2010 and calculated how many chose to become family medicine physicians and where they chose to start their careers.

After going through the rural training program, 72 percent of participants were more interested in rural medicine than before the program. Participants were 30 percent more likely to enter primary care residency training when compared with nonparticipants, and twice as likely to choose family medicine specifically. Additionally, 46 percent of participants chose a rural location to practice in after residency.

Nationally, only about 10 percent of physicians practice in rural areas, and less than 3 percent of entering medical students plan to practice in a rural area or small town, according to the news release.

"We developed the Summer Community Program in 1995 to address this issue. The outcome of our study shows that not only is our program working here in Missouri, but replicating it throughout the country may increase interest in rural medicine and address rural physician workforce needs elsewhere," Kevin Kane, MD, a professor of family and community medicine at the MU School of Medicine and lead study author, said in the news release.

More Articles on the Physician Shortage:
Which Residency Programs Produce the Most Primary Care Physicians?
Marian University Launches Medical School
Campbell University Fights North Carolina Physician Shortage With New Medical School

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