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Original Research

Rural student entry into a medical course: a South Australian rural high school perspective

Submitted: 27 April 2009
Revised: 19 October 2009
Published: 12 November 2009

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Author(s) : Hoggan B, Laven G, Newbury JW, Laurence C, Ryan V, Baillie S, Baker F.

Gillian LavenJonathan NewburyCaroline LaurenceVanessa RyanSue Baillie

Citation: Hoggan B, Laven G, Newbury JW, Laurence C, Ryan V, Baillie S, Baker F.  Rural student entry into a medical course: a South Australian rural high school perspective. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2009; 9: 1223. Available: (Accessed 20 October 2017)


Introduction: Rural background is an acknowledged predictor of later rural medical practice. This study aimed to explore why only small numbers of high school students from rural South Australia seek entry to the University of Adelaide Medical School.
Method: Questionnaires were designed to explore the interest in, knowledge of and attitudes about studying medicine of rural high school students, their parents and their careers counsellors. A stratified sample of 15†high schools in rural South Australia was selected. Data were collected from all participants on perceptions and knowledge of the entry processes and subject requirements for studying medicine. Student participants were also asked about their interest in studying medicine and becoming a doctor.
Results: Four hundred and sixty-one rural year†11 and 12 students, 512†parents of rural year†11 and 12 students, and 12†rural high school careers advisors returned useable data. Students, parents and career advisors were found to hold inaccurate perceptions of the minimum Tertiary Entrance Rank, and they incorrectly believed prerequisite subjects were required in order to study medicine at the University of Adelaide. Analysis identified a group of students interested in a career as a doctor but who had never considered studying medicine. The majority of students who had seriously considered studying medicine reported a lack of knowledge of admission processes and the requirements for studying medicine. Among students who found becoming a doctor appealing, those who had never considered medicine had less confidence regarding and knowledge of requirements and entry processes into medical courses than those who had.
Conclusions: Some keen rural students have inadequate or inaccurate information about medical courses and admissions processes, which will deter them from applying to study medicine. Another group of students were identified who were attracted to a medical career but had not sought information on entry to a university undergraduate medical course. Both groups might be encouraged to progress their application to a medical school through Ďacademic detailing visitsí to rural high schools, targeting medical careers promotion and provision of accurate and timely information on applying for and studying medicine.

Key words: admission to medical school, careers information, rural high school students, South Australia.

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