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

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Initiatives to address rural and remote health workforce shortages in Australia1 have resulted in a large number of international medical graduates working in rural Australia, often with low job satisfaction.2 Students from a rural background are more likely to choose a rural career than their colleagues from urban backgrounds.36 Efforts to reduce the rural workforce deficit in Australia include the Rural Clinical School (RCS) program. Similar initiatives are in place in Canada and the United States.7

Early indications are that the RCS program has a positive influence on rural career choice.8,9 The Mason Review of Australian Government health workforce programs recommended that the requirement for all Commonwealth-supported Australian medical students to undergo a minimum of 4 weeks of rural training be abolished in favour of longer placements10 which, together with a rural background, would lead to improved medical workforce outcomes.11

Medical students require an understanding of rural practice, which presents different challenges to urban medicine.1