The influence of international medical electives on career preference for primary care and rural practice

Iain Law, Lucie Walters

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    2 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Background: Previous studies have demonstrated a correlation between medical students who undertake international medical electives (IMEs) in resource poor settings and their reported career preference for primary care in underserved areas such as rural practice. This study examines whether a similar correlation exists in the Australian medical school context. Methods: Data was extracted from the Medical Schools Outcomes Database (MSOD) of Australian medical students that completed commencing student and exit questionnaires between 2006 and 2011. Student responses were categorized according to preferred training program and preferred region of practice at commencement. The reported preferences at exit of students completing IMEs in low and middle income countries (LMIC) were compared to those completing electives in high income countries (HIC). Results: The effect of elective experience for students expressing a preference for primary care at commencement was non-significant, with 40.32 % of LMIC and 42.11 % of HIC students maintaining a preference for primary care. Similarly there were no significant changes following LMIC electives for students expressing a preference for specialist training at commencement with 11.81 % of LMIC and 10.23 % of HIC students preferring primary care at exit. The effect of elective experience for students expressing a preference for rural practice at commencement was non-significant, with 41.51 % of LMIC and 49.09 % of HIC students preferring rural practice at exit. Similarly there were no significant changes following LMIC electives for students expressing a preference for urban practice at commencement, with 7.84 % of LMIC and 6.70 % of HIC students preferring rural practice at exit. Conclusions: This study did not demonstrate an association between elective experience in resource poor settings and a preference for primary care or rural practice. This suggests that the previously observed correlation between LMIC electives and interest in primary care in disadvantaged communities is likely dependent on student and elective program characteristics and supports the need for further research and critical examination of elective programs at Australian medical schools.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number483
    Number of pages5
    JournalBMC Medical Education
    Volume15
    Issue number202
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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