The mission of Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) is to recruit and educate students to serve as practicing health care professionals in rural, primary care, and medically underserved communities. We sought to determine if participation in an AHEC-sponsored family medicine clerkship experiences during medical school are significantly associated with a self-reported intent to practice primary care in a medically underserved environment upon graduation. The study was a prospective cohort study comparing third-year family medicine students with the Indiana University School of Medicine who participated in either an AHEC-sponsored family medicine clerkship to those who completed their required family medicine clerkship outside of the AHEC setting. Following the 160-h clinical clerkship, all students completed a mandatory, electronic survey and were asked to self-report their intent to the following question: “Which of the following statements best describes the impact of the family medicine clerkship on your intention to provide care to underserved patients when you complete residency training?” The question was integrated into a mandatory post-clerkship evaluation form required by the Indiana University School of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine. A Chi square test of independence as well as a multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to determine the independent association of AHEC clerkship participation and reported intent. A total of 1138 students completed the survey. There were not significant differences in age, gender, race, and ethnicity between students that completed an AHEC clerkship and those that did not. After adjusting for gender, race, and ethnicity, AHEC participants were significantly more likely to report an intention to practice primary care in a medically underserved setting upon graduation. Female students were found to be 1.2–3.4 times as likely to report increased intent compared to male students (95 % CI 1.241–3.394). Participation in an AHEC-supported clerkship was associated with a significant increase in self-reported intent to practice primary care in a medically underserved setting. Additional research is required to determine if participation and/or reported intent are predictive of practice selection after graduation.
- Area Health Education Centers
- Family medicine
- Intent to serve
- Medical students
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health(social science)