It’s increasingly recognised that rural practice can offer undergraduate medical students excellent learning opportunities, with higher-than-average satisfaction compared with their urban counterparts. There can be many reasons for this, not least that students are often forced into immersing themselves in the local community, as a rural placement will normally involve staying within the locality, instead of being able to return home from an urban practice which is normally easier to commute to.
Furthermore, there is good evidence that giving students a good experience of rural practice during the early stages of their careers, stimulates a considerable number of them to seriously consider taking up rural posts once more qualified. That’s certainly the case in my experience, when a fulfilling 5 week placement at the Group Practice in Stornoway made me think more about rural general practice as a career option.
However, how rural practice is offered to undergraduates, is implemented in many different ways across the UK. Of course, that is no bad thing, but we are starting to better understand the relationship between early student experiences and later career choice.
This piece of research from the IRH considers the rural practice opportunities for students at Keele University, and reports on some of the key findings from conversations with students who have benefitted from such placements.