Advances in rural medical education in three countries: Canada, the United States and Australia

Educ Health (Abingdon). 2005 Nov;18(3):405-15. doi: 10.1080/13576280500289728.


Introduction: This article documents a number of rural medical education initiatives in Australia, Canada and the United States. A typology is created reflecting the centrality the rural mandate and characterizing different features of each school's program. Interviews with school officials are drawn on to reflect the challenges these schools face.

Method: Seven schools noted for their rural programs were selected from the three countries and interviews were conducted with senior officials. The interview data was supplemented by published material on the schools.

Results: The Typology: Three kinds of school are distinguished: Mixed Urban/Rural Schools (University of Washington, US, the University of British Columbia, Canada and Flinders University, Australia); DeFacto Rural Schools (University of New Mexico, US and Memorial University, Canada) and Stand Alone Rural Schools (James Cook University, Australia and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Canada). The Pipeline Approach: All of the schools adopted in varying degrees a pipeline approach to meeting the need for rural doctors focusing on: (a) early recruitment; (b) admissions; (c) locating clinical education in rural settings; (d) rural health focus to curriculum; and (e) support for rural practice.

Conclusion: The analysis does not strongly favor one model over others, although the Stand-Alone Rural schools had more opportunities to adopt innovative curricula reflecting rural health issues and to foster positive views of rural practice. Government funding targeting rural health needs will remain critical in the development of all these programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Diffusion of Innovation*
  • Education, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Rural Health Services*
  • Schools, Medical
  • United States
  • Workforce