A medical school for rural areas

Med Educ. 1997 Nov;31(6):430-4. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2923.1997.00699.x.


Jichi Medical School (JMS) was established in 1972 to supply graduates to rural areas where medical resources are scarce. JMS has several unique characteristics aimed at motivating graduates to work in a rural practice. These include financial aid for students, a home prefecture recruiting scheme, location in a non-urban area, management by prefectures and support from the national government. The achievements of JMS over the 24-year period since its foundation have been evaluated. A questionnaire has been mailed to all JMS graduates since the first year of graduation. Using a pro-active approach to follow-up, the return rate has been virtually 100%. The authors investigated annual changes in the distribution of the graduates as well as the present status of the graduates in 1995. At that time, JMS graduates were distributed all over Japan. Among the 1871 graduates, 792 (42%) were working in rural areas in 1995. Nine-hundred and twenty-four graduated in the period from the first to the ninth output of graduates. Among these, 858 (93%) completed the requisite 9 years of work contracted between JMS and the graduates, 620 (67%) had practised in the same prefecture, and 305 (33%) were still practising in a rural area. Although there are still improvements to be made, JMS has succeeded in achieving its aim of supplying doctors to rural areas. The recruiting system of JMS is an effective approach to overcoming the shortage of rural doctors, which has continued to be an unresolved global problem.

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Rural Health Services*
  • Schools, Medical*