Introduction: Recruiting and retaining primary health care professionals is a global healthcare problem. Some countries have been using medical education as a strategy to aid in the recruitment and retention of these health care professionals. The purpose of this study is to engage with key informants and explore the learning processes that support medical students to prepare for a rural career.
Methods: Seven key informants with extensive experience in rural medical education participated in semi-structured interviews. The interviews were audio-recorded and professionally transcribed. Transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis.
Results: Four key themes were identified. Respondents discussed the different ways they conceptualized rural. Informants suggested that relationships could either be barriers or facilitators to rural practice and that certain educational strategies were necessary to help train students for rural careers. Finally, informants discussed different characteristics that rural physicians needed.
Conclusion: The finding of this study suggested that preparing students for rural practice requires a multifaceted approach. Specifically, using certain educational strategies, pre-selecting or developing certain characteristics in students, and helping students develop relationships that attach them to a community or support working in a rural community are warranted.