The Declining Number of Rural Medical Students 

As workforce shortages persist in rural health care, a new study from Health Affairs has identified a sharp decline in the number of medical students with rural backgrounds. Growing up in a rural setting is a strong predictor of a future decision to practice in a rural community, and the decline could mean a worsening in the shortage of physicians in rural areas of the country in the future. Although medical school positions increased by more than 30% from 2002 to 2017, the number of medical students from rural backgrounds decreased by 28%, according to the Health Affairs study. In 2017, only 4.3% of the incoming medical student body was comprised of students with rural backgrounds.