The Fulda Rural Project – Encouraging Young Doctors to Work in Rural Areas
DOI: 10.3238/zfa.2015.0260-0263german translation / full article
Background: In Germany, a shortage of family doctors is looming on the horizon, especially in rural areas. To encourage young doctors to work in remote areas, the Fulda administrative district cooperated with the Institute of Family Medicine at the Goethe University in Frankfurt to commence the „Fulda Rural Project“ in 2011. As part of this project, students can spend their two-week internships in family medicine at teaching practices in the region of Fulda. The region supports the students by covering the costs of travel, board and lodging. The aim of the present study is to analyze the evaluation data collected on the project.
Methods: The 52 students who have so far participated in the Fulda project received a questionnaire before and after the internship asking them to provide personal information, including rural upbringing, and to indicate whether they could imagine later becoming a family doctor or a community specialist in a rural area. Overall, 34 students answered both questionnaires. The answers provided before and after completing the internship were evaluated for statistical significance, the extent of any differences and for correlations.
Results: Following the internship, the items on working as a „rural FP“ showed a statistically significant increase in motivation. The size of the effect was greater with regard to motivation to become a rural FP than a rural specialist.
Conclusions: The present study shows a significant increase in motivation to work as a rural FP following voluntary student participation in the Fulda outing project. Further studies will be required to examine the sustainability of such an intervention, as well as the effect on students that are randomly allocated to the participation group. The success of the project encourages the involvement of students in rural internships in early phases of their studies, the provision of financial assistance for them, as well further support for specialist training in rural areas following their studies.