Amid reports of rural population decline, a recent study from the University of Missouri School of Medicine offers a glimmer of hope: More and more doctors are being inspired to pursue careers in rural areas. Thanks to the Summer Community Program offered by MU’s medical school, a program that provides students with four to eight weeks of clinical training in rural communities, graduating physicians are not only entering primary care residencies at a greater rate, but they also are much more likely to begin their careers in rural settings, thereby improving the access of rural populations to quality health care.
“Only about 10 percent of physicians practice in rural areas, and less than 3 percent of entering medical students nationally plan to practice in a rural community or small town,” says Kevin Kane, M.D., lead author of the study. But after participating in this program, students reported a much more favorable view of rural practice, 46 percent of which went on to choose rural locations for their first practices. “The outcome of our study,” Kane says, “shows that not only is our program working here in Missouri, but replicating it throughout the country may increase interest in rural medicine and address rural physician workforce needs.” Read the full report, published in Academic Medicine, the Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges.