Purpose: To report on the retention and practice outcomes of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford Rural Medical Education (RMED) Program and to examine distance from influential locations in relation to graduates’ current practice location.
Method: The RMED Program recruits candidates from rural backgrounds, provides a supplemental curriculum addressing rural topics and experiences, and tracks graduates’ practice location and specialty choice outcomes. Practice location and specialty were compared for 160 RMED graduates and 2,663 non-RMED graduates, from 1997 to 2007. Rural status was based on rural–urban commuting codes. Comparisons were made using cross-tabulation with calculation of chi-square or odds ratios to assess differences.
Results: RMED graduates were 14.4 times more likely than non-RMED graduates to choose family medicine; 6.7 times more likely to choose a primary care practice specialty; 17.2 times more likely to be currently practicing in a rural location; and 12.8 times more likely to be currently practicing in a primary care shortage zip code. Analysis of current RMED graduates’ practice locations indicates that 41.9% were within 90 miles of their fourth-year preceptorship community. Among RMED graduates practicing in Illinois, 62.1% and 73.3% were located within 60 and 90 miles, respectively, of their hometown.
Conclusions: Recruitment of students combined with a rural-focused curriculum yielded positive outcomes related to primary care practice and decisions regarding practice location. RMED graduates were considerably more likely than non-RMED graduates to choose family medicine, choose a primary care specialty, and be currently practicing in a rural location.
Dr. MacDowell is associate director and research associate professor of public health, National Center for Rural Health Professions, University of Illinois, Rockford, Illinois.
Dr. Glasser is associate dean for rural health professions and Dr. George and Mildred Mitchell Professor in Rural and Family Medicine, National Center for Rural Health Professions, University of Illinois, Rockford, Illinois.
Dr. Hunsaker is director, Rural Medical Education (RMED) Program, and associate professor of family medicine, National Center for Rural Health Professions, University of Illinois, Rockford, Illinois.
Funding/Support: Funded in part by a grant from the Center for Rural Health, Illinois Department of Public Health.
Other disclosures: None.
Ethical approval: Approval for this study was granted by the University of Illinois–Rockford institutional review board.
Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. MacDowell, National Center for Rural Health Professions, University of Illinois, 1601 Parkview Ave., Rockford, IL 61107; telephone: (815) 395-5579; fax: (815) 395-5908; e-mail: email@example.com.