The number of incoming medical students from rural backgrounds — a strong predictor a future physician will practice in a rural community — declined 28% between 2002 and 2017 to 852, according to a study published yesterday in Health Affairs. Only 4.3% of incoming medical students in 2017 were from rural areas. “Having new and established schools consider rural background as an important component of a diverse student body and tracking the schools’ effectiveness in increasing diversity in this area could have a significant impact on the dearth of rural students, thereby supporting the future adequacy of the rural workforce,” the authors said. “…Offering rural training experiences and other opportunities to interact with rural physicians should be a priority for medical schools that care about the problem of insufficient rural capacity in their region or across the nation.”

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