Intention mutability and translation of rural intention into actual rural medical practice

Denese Playford, Hanh Ngo, Ian Puddey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Rural intention and experience during medical school have been related to subsequent rural work. However, their relative contributions and the timing of their effects are not known. These data are critical to effective educational interventions able to improve rural medical workforce numbers, an international priority. Methods: Participants were graduates of an Australian MBBS degree between 2006 and 2016, who completed both entry and exit surveys approved by the Medical Deans of Australia, including workplace intention data. Rural/urban workplace intention changes from entry to exit were analysed using multinomial logistic regression. Binary logistic regression was used to assess actual rural versus urban work, obtained from a public practitioner registration website. Results: Of 547 eligible undergraduates, 169 completed a year-long rural clinical school (RCS). A subset of 93 of the 547 graduates practiced rurally, of whom 42 had completed RCS. Both rural background and RCS predicted rural practice intention; both were also significantly related to actual rural work. Enduring rural intention was associated with nearly sevenfold odds of actually practicing rurally, compared with an enduring urban intention. Those who changed practice intention from entry to exit were more likely to practice in the region of their exit intention. Of special note: Rural Clinical School of Western Australia (RCSWA) exposure particularly affects urban origin students such that the odds of changing from an urban to a rural orientation immediately after their rural experience were more than fourfold higher than those not so participating. Discussion: Both intention and RCSWA experience are associated with subsequent rural work. The impacts of RCSWA were able to be localised after the rural educational experience. Amongst those with mutable intention, exit intention was that most strongly related to actual work, suggesting this as the most reliable point to select for further rural training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)496-504
Number of pages9
JournalMedical Education
Issue number4
Early online date3 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


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