FACTORS AFFECTING RURAL STUDENTS' APPLICATION AND ADMISSION TO MEDICAL SCHOOL

Date

2013-04-12

Authors

Cummings, David

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Abstract

Purpose: To identify factors that influence the medical education of rural undergraduates and increase the number of graduates that practice in rural communities. Objectives 1.Develop a valid survey tool to evaluate and measure the barriers of rural students that affect their decision to apply and gain admission to medical school. 2.To examine the barrier and support factors associated with the medical school application process that affects premed undergraduate rural students. 3.To examine the barrier and support factors associated with the medical school admissions process and outcome that affects applicants to TCOM. Methods: The research design for this study is primarily observational. Descriptive statistics were generated using SPSS© version 19 and crosstabs were used for comparisons. Hypothesis testing was performed on relevant comparisons. Non-Parametric analysis methods including Chi Squared and the Mann-Whitney Rank Sum Test were performed to test for significance among comparisons. A significant alpha level of .05 will be used for all significance tests. Results: For rural students, the level of positive influence from "other relatives" was statistically significant (p value= .018). Rural status may also be associated with the perceived level of helpful advice given to the students by selected persons. Rural students did show more helpful feedback was provided to them by their premedical/prehealth advisor than non-rural counterparts.The association was not significant at the .05 level (p value=.089). For rural students, the top three obstacles include prerequisite courses, MCAT preparation, and MCAT score. Non rural students share the same three top choices, except healthcare experience and prerequisite classes tied for third largest obstacle. MCAT score accounted for the largest difference between the groups but was not statistically significant (p value=.75). Conclusions: Factors exist that can impair or assist undergraduates in achieving their goals of applying to medical school or being accepted into a medical program. Rural students may experience these factors differently than their non-rural counterparts. Determining which persons and which programs are most helpful is a necessity. A small sample size and a lack of diversity within our pre-test sample make it difficult to generalize our findings to the target population. A pilot study with a sufficient number of diverse respondents must be conducted to evaluate the contributing factors accurately.

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