Bridging the divide: rural exposure for urban medical students

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Jasmine Waslowski
Tristan Brownrigg



There is no doubt that rural and urban medical practice differ. Rural family physicians are reported to participate in a broader range of clinical activities, including emergency medicine and obstetrical care, and are more likely to have hospital privileges.1 Rural physicians tend to work a greater number of hours per week and spend less time on each type of activity.1 They deliver health services to populations with different characteristics than those in cities. Namely, rural populations have comparably higher dependency ratios (i.e. more children and seniors and fewer working age people), lower levels of education, higher unemployment rates and lower incomes, lower immigrant populations, and often a high proportion of Indigenous peoples.2 At the same time, rural regions struggle to be adequately supported by health professionals. While 17.6% of Canada’s population is located outside of population centres, only 8.2% of physicians live in rural areas.