Rural Medical Student Opinions About Rural Practice: Does Choice of College Make a Difference?

Purpose

While many programs assume medical students who attended rural colleges are more likely to practice in smaller towns later, there are few studies to support this assumption. This study examines aspects of medical students’ opinions about rural living and rural practice based on where they attended college.

Method

Students with rural upbringing were identified and administered a previously published rural health opinion survey. The opinion survey was administered across three academic years, from 2015 to 2017, and included a total of three scales and nine subscales for analysis. Factor analysis was used to identify the nine subscales.

Results

Respondents who attended small town colleges tended to have much stronger opinions about the positive aspects of small town living. Small town college attendees also had stronger positive opinions regarding rural practice than their larger college counterparts.

Discussion

These preliminary data indicate considering a medical school applicants’ choice of college may provide insight into their opinions about future rural practice. Additional research is needed to collect a larger dataset to examine the association of college choice with opinions about rural practice.