Exploring Medical Students’ Rural Intention on Course Entry





Rural, Remote, Rural education, Rural clinical placements, medical students, rural intention


Understanding the rural intentions of medical students has the potential to improve the effective allocation of rural clinical placements, the demand for which regularly exceeds availability. Longitudinal studies on students’ rural intentions have been published but a refined understanding of the spectrum of intentions is absent in the literature. To fully understand students’ rural intentions, and the factors influencing those intentions, comprehensive research, at all stages of a student’s academic career, is required.

The project used for this article, identifies a group with neutral intention and explores the influence of a range of demographic factors and variety of rural experience for their potential to move students towards high rural intention. The study also identifies trends in student perceptions of potential locations for rural practice in Western Australia. This more detailed approach is offered as a basis for a future model to inform the allocation of scarce rural placement opportunities, known to be significant in converting rural intention into practice.

The project responds to increasingly frequent calls for changes to policy and practice regarding the allocation of rural clinical placements to better realise their value in improving the maldistribution of Australia’s medical workforce. The study suggests that a greater range of indicators, beyond being of rural origin, can lead to neutral or high rural intention. The results of this study suggest a model that incorporates these additional elements and tracks their development over time would be a valuable component in initiatives aimed at building positive rural intention.

Author Biographies

Keith McNaught, Curtin Medical School, Curtin University, Perth, Australia

Keith is currently Associate Professor at the Curtin Medical School and Rural Academic Lead at the Kalgoorlie Rural Health Campus, specialising in Rural and Regional programs.    He is Director of Health Equity, within the Discipline in Medicine, at Curtin Medical School.  

Keith has served in a number of senior leadership and executive director roles in the education and healthcare sectors. He has developed expertise in the leadership of major change projects, including the implementation of a total restructure of a regional university campus.  Keith has more than 50 peer-reviewed publications across healthcare and education. 

Colette Rhoding, Curtin Medical School, Curtin University, Perth, Australia

Colette Rhoding is a Research Officer for the Rural Health Campus, Curtin School of Medicine, Curtin University.  Colette has a background in project management in industry and education.  Her work in education focused primarily on enabling programs and developing students’ foundation communication and research skills in health, business, science, and arts.  Colette had a ten-year career at the University of Notre Dame Australia, during which she developed a number of long-running green-field units.  Her tenure there culminated with a high-level admin role In which she initiated a number of fresh partnership arrangements between institution and industry in rural and remote education.  Colette’s work continues to be driven by a passion for education as a tool for social justice, with a focus on rural and remote education.




How to Cite

McNaught, K., & Rhoding, C. (2023). Exploring Medical Students’ Rural Intention on Course Entry. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 33(3), 47–61. https://doi.org/10.47381/aijre.v33i3.597