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Review Article

Determinants of an urban origin student choosing rural practice: a scoping review

Submitted: 3 February 2015
Revised: 28 April 2015
Accepted: 11 May 2015
Published: 22 September 2015

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Author(s) : Myhre DL, Bajaj S, Jackson W.

Douglas MyhreSameer BajajWesley Jackson

Citation: Myhre DL, Bajaj S, Jackson W.  Determinants of an urban origin student choosing rural practice: a scoping review. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2015; 15: 3483. Available: (Accessed 21 October 2017)


Introduction:  The shortage of physicians in rural and remote communities is an ongoing problem. Many studies have shown that the rural background of a student (ie rural origin) is a primary factor in recruiting physicians for practice in rural communities. Scoping reviews are primarily done to gauge the extent of literature on the research question at hand, typically with an intent that future research in that area is a constructive addition to pre-existing knowledge. This scoping review focuses on factors that predispose urban-origin students to choose a carrier in rural medicine.
Methods:  The study used Arksey and O’Malley’s guidelines for a scoping review of the literature, which, in contrast to a traditional systematic review, is brief yet comprehensive. Medline (Ovid) and PubMed databases were used to review literature published between 1 January 1970 and 30 November 2014. After removing duplicates, articles were screened based on inclusion and exclusion criteria set up by the research team. The literature search resulted in 435 articles, 418 of which were excluded, leaving 17 articles for comprehensive review.
Results:  Out of these 17 studies, the following four factors that suggest why urban-origin medical students may choose rural practice were generated: geographic diffusion of physicians in response to economic forces such as debt repayment and financial incentives (five studies), scope of practice and personal satisfaction (five studies), undergraduate and postgraduate rural training (nine studies) and premedical school mindset to practice rurally (five studies).
Conclusions:  Urban-origin students may choose rural practice because of market forces as well as financial incentives. The participation in undergraduate and postgraduate rural training is reported to positively alter the attitude of urban-origin students. A small subset of these students has a predetermined mindset to practice rurally at the time of matriculation. Obstacles for choosing a rural carrier include, but are not limited to lack of job and education opportunities for spouses/partners, lack of recreational and educational opportunities for children, and obscure opportunities for continuing medical education.

Key words: career, debt repayment, economic forces, pre-medical school mindset, rural medicine, rural training, rural-origin students, scope of practice, scoping review, urban-origin students.

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