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Original Research

Early career location of University of Adelaide rural cohort medical students

Submitted: 22 March 2013
Revised: 1 July 2013
Accepted: 30 July 2013
Published: 10 February 2014

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Author(s) : Jamar E, Newbury J, Mills D.

Elouise JamarJonathan NewburyDavid Mills

Citation: Jamar E, Newbury J, Mills D.  Early career location of University of Adelaide rural cohort medical students. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2014; 14: 2592. Available: (Accessed 17 October 2017)


Introduction:  In 2001 the Australian Government Department of Health began what is now the Rural Clinical Training and Support (RCTS) program which funds rural background selection and rural clinical education in an attempt to increase the rural medical workforce. At the University of Adelaide, students of the 6-year undergraduate medical program have the opportunity to complete the whole of their fifth year of clinical studies at one of eight rural locations. This study seeks to track the early career movements of these graduates in order to determine the program’s rural medical workforce impact.
Methods:  The retrospective study involved graduates who had studied a rural fifth year between 2003 and 2010 inclusive. Only domestic students were included in the study. One hundred and twenty four out of a possible 127 participants were contacted by email and asked to complete a 28-question online survey using SurveyMonkey. The survey included questions regarding career choices since graduation and experiences during the RCTS program. Quantitative data was analysed using descriptive statistics and qualitative data underwent thematic analysis.
Results:  The survey response rate was 58.2% with 74 useable responses. Respondents described the career choices they had made since graduation, including the stage they were at in their training, the speciality they had chosen and their location during each year. Data showed that between 2009 and 2012 between 20.8% and 34.1% of respondents were located in a rural area (Australian Standard Geographical Classification – Remoteness Areas 2–5). More than half of respondents have spent time in a rural area since graduation and 85.1% of respondents indicated they had intentions to work in a rural area in the future. In saying this, 8 years post-graduation is not long enough to assess the rural work force outcome. Graduates move frequently between practice locations even at 8 years post-graduation; only five respondents had completed postgraduate training. The RCTS program is important in the progression from medical school to rural practice, including the initial decision to take part in it. The interest of some respondents who were practising in rural areas in 2012, and were initially ‘very interested’ in rural practice, either ‘slightly’ or ‘significantly increased’.
Conclusions:  These results show that the RCTS program can supplement an initial interest in rural medicine.

Key words: early medical career, medical education, Rural Clinical Training and Support, rural medical workforce.

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