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Rural clinical school outcomes: what is success and how long do we wait for it?

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In reply: Garne and colleagues raise the important matter of whether the current quota of rural students in medical schools (25%) should be increased, given the positive impact of rural background on future rural practice. We agree that this warrants serious consideration, but suggest that there should not only be an increased national quota for rural students but also consideration of the distribution of these students between different medical schools.

Medical schools are not all the same. They have differing staff expertise and facilities, and also recruit students in a number of different environments and populations. These factors facilitate student recruitment and training, and hopefully influence students’ future career choices to serve in disadvantaged communities (such as underserved urban or ethnic communities), and also in underserviced subspecialties (such as dermatology and otorhinolaryngology) and other health priorities (such as public health and research leadership). Perhaps individual medical school quotas for rural students should vary depending on their staff expertise, facilities and environments.

We are not frustrated. We are proud of our achievement in training rural practitioners and congratulate the University of Wollongong on theirs.