A short-term rural placement can change metropolitan medical students' knowledge of, and attitudes to, rural practice

Julian R. Wright, Lisa Bourke, Catherine J. Waite, Thom A. Holden, Jenni M. Goodwin, Anne L. Marmo, Maxine L. Wilson, Helen E. Malcolm, David Pierce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To determine whether a short-term placement of metropolitan medical students in a rural environment can improve their knowledge of, and change their attitudes to, rural health issues. Design and participants: Medical students taking part in the March and May 2013 3-week Rural Health Modules (RHMs) were invited to participate in focus groups and complete questionnaires before undertaking the RHM, after a 2-day rural orientation and at the end of the RHM. Students were asked to comment on a range of issues affecting rural health care including their attitude to pursuing a rural career. Focus group transcripts were thematically analysed and questionnaire data were statistically analysed. Setting: The RHM is a 3-week program designed and run by the University of Melbourne's Rural Health Academic Centre. Main outcome measures: Responses to questionnaire items from before and after completing the RHM, scored on a seven-point Likert scale. Results: 69 of the 101. RHM students took part in this study. The focus groups identified five main themes in rural health care: access; teamwork, models of care and generalist practice; overlapping relationships; indigenous health; and working in a rural career. In all five areas, a change was seen in the depth of knowledge students had about these issues and in the students' attitudes towards rural health care. The questionnaires also showed a significant shift in the students' appreciation of, and positivity towards, rural health issues. Conclusion: Undertaking a 3-week RHM changed students' perceptions of rural health and improved their knowledge of issues facing rural health practitioners and patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-105
Number of pages3
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes

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