Contemporary Australian socio-cultural factors and their influence on medical student rural career intent

James Padley, David Gonzalez-Chica, Paul Worley, Katrina Morgan, Lucie Walters

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    Objective: To understand how contemporary socio-cultural factors may impact medical students' rural career intent. Design: Cross-sectional study using data from the national Federation of Rural Australian Medical Educators survey. Participants/setting: Medical students across 18 Australian universities who completed a full academic year of clinical training in rural areas in 2019. Main outcome measure(s): Preferred location of practice post-training reported to be either: (i) a major city; (ii) a regional area or large town; or (iii) a small rural location. Results: In total, 626 students completed the survey (70.1% response rate). A small rural location was the most preferred location of practice after graduation for 28.3% of the students (95% CI 21.6–36.0). Four socio-cultural factors were positively associated with a preference for a rural career location: poor health status of rural people, motor vehicle traffic congestion in cities, rural generalist training opportunities in the state and the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Other socio-cultural factors, including specialists’ under-employment, Medicare freeze effect on doctors' income, bullying/sexual harassment in hospitals, climate change/natural disasters or recognised rural health personalities did not influence the investigated outcome. Conclusions: Our findings indicate a novel association between contemporary socio-cultural factors and rural career intention in a cohort of Australian rural clinical school students. These findings advocate for further consideration of research exploring socio-cultural factors shaping rural career intent and workforce outcomes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)520-528
    Number of pages9
    JournalAustralian Journal of Rural Health
    Issue number4
    Early online date5 Apr 2022
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


    • career choice
    • family medicine
    • health workforce
    • rural health


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