Gender equity at last: a national study of medical students considering a career in rural medicine

Caleb Kim, Hanh Ngo, Denese Playford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Web of Science)


Background: The rural medical workforce internationally suffers from a significant imbalance between male- and female- identifying practitioners. Not only do male doctors outnumber female doctors, but additionally female doctors work fewer hours than their male counterparts. This has health implications for rural communities. In response, In Australia, Rural Clinical Schools (RCSs) are a national training strategy to increase the number of graduates entering the rural medical workforce. It has been observed that RCSs attract a greater number of female students than male students. However, the future work intentions of male versus female RCS students is not known. This paper therefore asked whether male and female RCS students have equivalent intent for future rural practice. Methods: Participants were all students who attended RCSs from 2015 to 2017, who completed an exit survey that gathered data on demographic, experiential and intentional variables. Univariate analyses examined differences between the sexes. A multivariate model was constructed to determine the independent predictors for rural intention. Results: There were 2017 respondents across the 3 years, of whom 937 identified as male, and 1138 identified as female. In univariate analysis, female-identifying students had significantly higher rural intention than male-identifying students. There were no other sex-based differences in age, rural background, overall perception of support, and overall excellence of clinical education whilst in RCS. However, in multivariate analysis, sex was not a significant predictor for rural work intention, whereas older age, rural background, and first preference for RCS were all predictive of increased rural intent, as expected from the literature. There were no differences between male and female students in their perceptions of the overall support and the clinical education provided by RCS. Conclusion: We conclude from this national study that sex is not an independent predictor for future rural work intention among RCS students. Considering the disproportionate number of female students entering RCS, this is reassuring for ultimately achieving rural workforce gender equity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number432
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


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