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Evaluation of a required statewide interdisciplinary rural health education program: student attitudes, career intents and perceived quality

Evaluation of a required statewide interdisciplinary rural health education program: student attitudes, career intents and perceived quality

Education for Health 18(3): 395-404

A shortage of healthcare providers in West Virginia led to the creation of a statewide, community-based program with a required three-month rural experience for most state-sponsored health professions students. Project description: Initiated using funding from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and expanded using both state funds and Area Health Education Center support, the West Virginia Rural Health Education Partnerships (WVRHEP) program impacts institutions of higher learning, 50 counties, and 332 training sites, and all students in state-funded health professions schools. A longitudinal database has been constructed to study program effects on students' reported attitudes, service orientation, and career intents. Baseline data are collected from medical students, and students in all disciplines provide feedback on rotations and information about career intents, social responsibility, and attitudes towards rural practice. Data indicate an association between perceived quality of the rural experience and increased interest in rural health, social responsibility and confidence in becoming part of the community. Medical students may tend to rate social responsibility higher after completion of the first rural rotation. Students who anticipate practice in smaller towns also tend to rate the quality of the rotation higher, to anticipate careers in primary care, and to acknowledge social responsibility. As WVRHEP program graduates who have completed these surveys enter practice, both personal and community-specific program characteristics may be identified which strengthen interest in rural practice. The predictive validity of intermediate outcomes of attitudes and career intents in forecasting the ultimate outcomes of recruitment and retention may be studied.

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Accession: 048993948

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PMID: 16236587

DOI: 10.1080/13576280500289710

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