Introduction: New Zealand is facing a general practice workforce crisis, especially in rural communities. Medical school entrants from low decile schools or rural locations may be more likely to choose rural general practice as their career path.
Aim: To determine whether a relationship exists between secondary school decile rating, the size of the town of origin of medical students and their subsequent medical career intentions.
Methods: University of Auckland medical students from 2006 to 2008 completed an entry questionnaire on a range of variables thought important in workforce determination. Analyses were performed on data from the 346 students who had attended a high school in New Zealand.
Results: There was a close relationship between size of town of origin and decile of secondary school. Most students expressed interests in a wide range of careers, with students from outside major cities making slightly fewer choices on average.
Discussion: There is no strong signal from these data that career specialty choices will be determined by decile of secondary school or size of town of origin. An increase in the proportion of rural students in medical programmes may increase the number of students from lower decile schools, without adding another affirmative action pathway.