Background: Medical schools worldwide are challenged to address the rural primary care workforce shortage by creating community-engaged curricula to nurture student interest in rural practice.
Aim: To examine the personal characteristics of six consecutive rural longitudinal integrated clerkship student cohorts to understand whom the programs attract and select and thus inform the development of such programs.
Method: A cross-sectional cohort design was used. Six cohorts (2007-2012) completed a survey on demographics and factors that influenced their choice of rural primary care. The Temperament and Character Inventory was used to measure personality. Analysis was mainly descriptive. Where appropriate univariate analysis compared variables between groups.
Results: Sample size was 205 with the majority female (61%), between 25 and 29 years (64%), single (60%) and lived longest in rural communities with populations less than 20,000 (60%). Rural lifestyle, background and desire to work in underserved areas were noted to impact rural medicine interest. Professional satisfaction, personal and professional goals and family needs had the highest impact on career decisions, and financial concerns lowest.
Conclusion: The stability of students' personal characteristics across cohorts and the workforce outcomes of this program suggest the recruitment process successfully nurtures students who will fit well into future rural practice.