Background and objectives: Evidence suggests that rural experiences can positively influence students' preferences for rural practice. This study examined changes in students' perceptions toward rural primary care following a required rural clerkship.
Methods: Third-year students completed pre- and post-clerkship questionnaire items assessing their beliefs about primary care physicians who practice in rural communities in comparison with their urban/suburban counterparts. A factor analysis was performed, and pre- and post-clerkship scale means were calculated to determine differences.
Results: A total of 428 (88%) students completed these questionnaires. There was a significant increase in students' perceptions of rural primary care physicians' primary care service features and medical expertise. Students perceived the physicians' work demands more positively, and there was no change in students' perceptions of the physicians' income potential.
Conclusions: Results suggest that the rural primary care clerkship positively influenced students' perceptions toward rural primary care.