Feature Article March 2016

Rural Practice Characteristics

Cooee March 2016 Laura Sharley 3

AURHA Rural Health Club member and 2014 RDAA Medical Student of the Year, Laura Sharley, goes fishing in the mangroves during a placement on the Tiwi Islands.

When the going gets tough, Rural Health Club members get going!

A recent study suggests that members of Rural Health Clubs tend to have personality traits that are suited to careers in rural and remote medicine.

The report says doctors and medical students benefit from a high level of resilience to cope with and manage the challenges of the profession, arguably more so in rural practice.

It found that registrars who belonged to a Rural Health Club while at medical school tended toward lower levels of harm avoidance, with higher persistence, self-directedness, cooperativeness and resilience.

The report’s authors found it hard to tell why attending a rural clinical school did not show a similar main effect on some traits.

“A possible explanation might be that rural club membership is completely voluntary whereas some rural clinical schools must ballot students to meet their quota and therefore it is likely that some do not have a strong interest in a rural career.”

The authors went on to say that the degree of exposure to rural lifestyle and clinical practice varies widely between rural clubs, and membership ranges from students who are devoted to rural medicine to those just wanting to get some experience.

“It might be supposed that interest in belonging to a rural club is in part a reflection of an individual’s attitudes toward rural experiences and supports studies that show exposure to rural practice and life during medical training can dispel preconceptions, good and bad, about its realities.”