The Correlation between Global Health Experiences in Low-Income Countries on Choice of Primary Care Residencies for Graduates of an Urban US Medical School
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This study sought to determine whether medical students who participate in a global health elective in a low-income country select residencies in primary care at higher rates compared with their classmates and US medical graduates in general. Given the projected increase in demand for primary care physicians, particularly in underserved areas, understanding possible factors that encourage training in primary care or enhance interest in the care of underserved populations may identify opportunities in medical school training. The authors used data from the Office of Student Affairs, SUNY Downstate College of Medicine and the National Residency Matching Program to compare rates of primary care residency selection from 2004 to 2012. Residency selections for students who participated in the SUNY Downstate School of Public Health Global Health Elective were compared with those of their classmates and with residency match data for US seniors. In 7 of the 8 years reviewed, students who participated in the SUNY Downstate School of Public Health Global Health Elective selected primary care residencies at rates higher than their classmates. Across years, 57 % of the students who completed the elective matched to primary care residences, which was significantly higher than the 44 % for the remainder of Downstate's medical student class (p = 0.0023). In 6 of the 8 years, Downstate students who participated in the Global Health Elective selected primary care residencies at rates higher than US medical school seniors in general; rates were the same for both Downstate Global Health Elective students and US medical school seniors in 2009. Students who participated in a global health experience in a low-income country selected primary care residencies at higher rates than their classmates and US medical school graduates in general. Understanding how these experiences correlate with residency selection requires further investigation; areas of future study are discussed.
KeywordsMedical school graduates Primary care residency choice Urban medical school graduates Global health electives for medical students Global health experience in low-income countries Underserved populations Residency selections Factors influencing medical residency choice Primary care residencies
The authors would like to sincerely thank Lois Hahn of the Office of the Dean, SUNY Downstate School of Public Health, who has been responsible for many of the administrative tasks of the Global Health Elective for a number of years; the members of the Selection Committee who screen applicants for the elective; and colleagues at our overseas sites. We also wish to thank Sophie Christoforou, Lorraine Terracina, and Anne Shonbrun of the SUNY, Downstate Office of Student Affairs; Mei Liang, Director of Research for the National Residency Matching Program; and the American Medical College Application Service.
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