Association between rural clinical clerkship and medical students' intentions to choose rural medical work after graduation : A crosssectional study in western China

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0195266
Journal / PublicationPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Online published2 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018



BackgroundA large number of programs have been implemented in many countries to increase the healthcare workforce recruitment in rural and remote areas. Rural early exposure programs for medical students have been shown to be effective strategies. However, no related studies have been reported before in China. This study was carried out to determine the association between medical students' participation in rural clinical clerkships and their intentions to choose rural medical work after graduation from western medical schools in China. 
Methods Based on a two-stage random sampling method, the cross-sectional survey was carried out in ten western provinces in China. A brief questionnaire filled in by medical students was used for data collection. A total of 4278 medical students participated in the study. The response rate was approximately 90.34%. Pearson's chi-squared tests and binary logistic regression analyses were performed for data analyses. 
Results Approximately 52.0% of medical students disclosed intentions to work in rural medical institutions after graduation. Only one in five participants had experience with a rural clinical clerkship. Rural clinical clerkships were significantly associated with medical students' intentions to work in rural medical institutions (OR: 1.24, 95%CI: 1.05-1.46); further analyses indicated that such clerkships only had a significant impact among the medical students with an urban background (OR: 2.10, 95%CI: 1.48-2.97). In terms of the sociodemographic characteristics, younger age, low level of parental education, majoring in general practice, and studying in low-level medical schools increased the odds of having intentions to engage in rural medical work among medical students; however, rural origins was the only positive univariate predictor. In addition, the predictors of intentions to choose rural medical workwere different between medical students with a rural background and those with an urban background. 
Conclusions Rural clinical clerkship is likely to increase the odds of having intentions to work in rural medical institutions after graduation among medical students in western China, especially for those with an urban background. Related policy makers could consider developing compulsory rural clerkship programs and implement them among medical students to increase early rural exposure.

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