The effect of rural placements on future rural general practice


  • Alexandra Louise MacDonald University of Notre Dame Australia
  • Kerith Duncanson NSW Health Education and Training Institute



Background: Providing health care to rural populations is a major issue in Australia. Disease burdenand health risk factorsincrease with remoteness, but the access to appropriate service decrease. The introduction of Rural Clinical Schools, rural locations for internship and residency, and decentralisation of the Australian General Practitioner Training Programaim to address this disparity. This systematic review aimed at determining if rural placements throughout medical training are associated with future rural general practice in Australia.

Methods: Medline (Ovid), Pubmed, CINAHL and Science Direct were searched for the period January 2000 to July 2019. Included studies related specifically to rural general practitioners in Australia and studies were excluded if they reported only on intention to practice rurally. Evidence was assessed using the Standards for Quality Improvement Reporting Excellence Guidelines.

Results: Eleven articles met the inclusion criteria. Three studies examined the effect of rural placements in medical school on future rural general practice. Three studies looked at placements as a junior doctor on future rural general practice. Four studies looked at the effect of rural general practitioner training on future rural general practice. One study reported on the effect of rural placements during both medical school and junior doctor years on future rural general practice. The studies supported an association between rural placements and future rural general practice, particularly for Australian born doctors, Australian graduates and individuals from rural backgrounds.

Discussion: This review suggests that rural placements during medical training increase the likelihood of future rural general practice. The interplay of personal and professional life influence whether rural intention is sufficient to result in rural practice. Addressing human factors that influence rural practice will contribute to achieving equitable rural health care.


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How to Cite

MacDonald, A. L., & Duncanson, K. (2021). The effect of rural placements on future rural general practice. Health Education in Practice: Journal of Research for Professional Learning, 4(1).