Background and objectives: While medical students' interest in family medicine declines, and residency programs face recruiting challenges, interest in international health is increasing. We studied the influence of offering an international health track (IHT) on residency recruitment.
Methods: We surveyed all graduates between the years 1994--2003 of a family medicine residency program offering an optional IHT (n=90). Descriptive and bivariate analyses characterized and compared the geographic scope and residency selection criteria of IHT participants and nonparticipants.
Results: The response rate was 77%. Compared to nonparticipants in the IHT, residents who participated in the IHT reported coming a significantly greater median distance from their medical school training site (250--499 miles versus 0--99) and from their "home" (500--999 miles versus 100--249) for residency training. Participants reported that the factor most positively influencing their choice of this residency training site over others was the IHT (mean=+2.5, standard deviation [SD]=0.90), outscoring, on average, location, faculty quality, resident quality, and spousal preference. Nonparticipants' choices were influenced most by the traditionally reported selection factors location (mean=+2.37, SD=1.14) and faculty quality (mean=+2.29, SD=0.97).
Conclusions: One program's experience suggests that the presence of international health training opportunities may influence the residency selection choices of family medicine residents. As family medicine moves to reinvent residency education and to recapture student interest, attractive training models that integrate clinical, community, and public health should be evaluated further.