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Impact of the Rural Clinical School of Western Australia on work location of medical graduates

In the face of severe and ongoing medical workforce shortages in rural Australia, initiatives have been introduced to improve recruitment and retention in rural practice.1 These have included pathways for international medical graduates to enter the rural workforce, incentives for existing rural doctors, rural-bonded medical school places, quarantined rural student places in medical schools, scholarships for rural medical students, and undergraduate immersion in rural medicine through rural clinical schools (RCSs). The RCSs were intended to influence the future career choices of medical students and so contribute to a self-sustaining locally trained workforce.

It is clear in the international literature that multiple factors are associated with medical graduates’ career destinations. A prospective longitudinal study of medical graduates followed up 30 years after they graduated showed that selecting rural-origin undergraduates with a declared interest in primary care and providing rural-immersion programs each independently and linearly increased graduates’ likelihood of working rurally.2,3 Rural immersion has been favoured by some programs in the…