Medical students' practice plans: 3 study findings

New survey findings indicate racial and ethnic minority medical students are more likely to say they plan on practicing in medically underserved areas upon graduation.

The findings were published Oct. 19 in JAMA and are based on web-based surveys the Association of American Medical Colleges administered from 2019 to 2021. There were nearly 49,000 respondents from 139 medical schools and of those, nearly 46,000 answered the following question: Do you plan to work primarily in an underserved area?

Three notes: 

  • Overall, nearly 28% of respondents intended to practice primarily in an underserved area. 


  • Women had higher odds of intent to practice in an underserved area than men, after accounting for other factors. 


  • Nearly 55% of Black medical students indicated plans to work in underserved areas. About 46% of medical students who are of American Indian or Alaska Native descent said the same. Nearly 25% of white students planned to practice in underserved areas. 

The findings align with studies conducted before 2013 and offer more evidence that improving diversity among the healthcare workforce can improve healthcare access across the nation and move the needle on health disparities.

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