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Original Research

Unfreezing the Flexnerian Model: introducing longitudinal integrated clerkships in rural communities

Submitted: 28 November 2013
Revised: 29 January 2014
Accepted: 29 January 2014
Published: 21 August 2014

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Author(s) : Bing-You RG, Trowbridge RL, Kruithoff C, Daggett Jr JL.

Robert Bing-You

Citation: Bing-You RG, Trowbridge RL, Kruithoff C, Daggett Jr JL.  Unfreezing the Flexnerian Model: introducing longitudinal integrated clerkships in rural communities. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2014; 14: 2944. Available: (Accessed 20 October 2017)


Introduction:  Physician shortages in rural areas remain severe but may be ameliorated by recent expansions in medical school class sizes. Expanding student exposure to rural medicine by increasing the amount of prolonged clinical experiences in rural areas may increase the likelihood of students pursuing a career in rural medicine. This research sought to investigate the perspective of rural physicians on the introduction of a rurally based nine-month Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC).
Methods:  In this mixed-methods study, nine physician leaders were interviewed from five Maine, USA, rural hospitals participating in an LIC. Semi-structured interviews were audiotaped and transcribed. Qualitative analysis techniques were used to code the transcripts and develop themes. Forty-seven participating rural LIC preceptors were also surveyed through an online survey.
Results:  Four major themes related to implementing the LIC model emerged: (1) melting old ways, (2) overcoming fears, (3) synergy of energy, and (4) benefits all-around. The faculty were very positive about the LIC, with increased job satisfaction, practice morale, and ongoing learning, but concerned about the financial impact on productivity.
Conclusions:  The importance of these themes and perceptions are discussed within the three-stage model of change by Lewin. These results describe how the innovative LIC model can conceptually unfreeze the traditional Flexnerian construct for rural physicians. Highlighting the many stakeholder benefits and addressing the anxieties and fears of rural faculty may facilitate the implementation of a rural LIC. Given the net favorable perception of rural faculty of the LIC, this educational model has the potential to play a major role in increasing the rural workforce.

Key words: clerkship, community-based, Flexner, longitudinal, medical students.

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