A sense of place: rural training at a regional medical school campus

J Rural Health. Winter 2004;20(1):80-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-0361.2004.tb00011.x.


Context: Traditionally, rural students experience urban disruption during the many years of education and training in urban environments before choosing a practice site. Regional rural campuses that allow students to live and work in small towns during the last 2 years of medical school are one strategy to address this issue.

Purpose: To report the results of the first 10 years of a rural campus in western Kentucky, including response to difficulties filling openings for third- and fourth-year medical students at the campus.

Methods: A survey was sent to all 76 students who had shown interest in the rural campus, asking them to prioritize the important issues in their campus choice.

Findings: Students not choosing the rural campus placed a higher priority on large-city amenities, better opportunities for their spouse, and proximity to family in eastern and central Kentucky. Students who chose the rural campus placed a higher priority on one-on-one clinical training and interest in small town life.

Conclusions: For the rural clinical campus to reach its potential, more rural students from the western part of the state must be admitted to medical school and then choose this campus. Strategies to reinforce the sense of place among rural students focus on experiential programs in rural areas. Initial results suggest that medical educators should consider geography more carefully when designing approaches to address physician maldistribution.

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / organization & administration*
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Humans
  • Kentucky
  • Physicians, Family / supply & distribution
  • Primary Health Care
  • Professional Practice Location
  • Rural Health*
  • Schools, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires