Casapulla SL. Self-efficacy of Osteopathic Medical Students in a Rural-Urban Underserved Pathway Program. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2017;117(9):577–585. doi: https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2017.112.
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Self-efficacy has been shown to play a role in medical students’ choice of practice location. More physicians are needed in rural and urban underserved communities. Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine has a co-curricular training program in rural and urban underserved practice to address this shortage.
To assess whether participation in the co-curricular program in rural and urban underserved practice affects self-efficacy related to rural and underserved urban practice.
This cross-sectional study explored self-efficacy using Bandura's 5 sources of self-efficacy (vicarious learning, verbal persuasion, positive emotional arousal, negative emotional arousal, and performance accomplishments). A validated scale on self-efficacy for rural practice was expanded to include self-efficacy for urban underserved practice and e-mailed to all 707 medical students across 4 years of medical school. Composite rural and urban underserved self-efficacy scores were calculated. Scores from participants in the rural and urban underserved training program were compared with those who were not in the program.
Data were obtained from 277 students. In the overall sample, students who indicated that they grew up in a rural community reported significantly higher rural self-efficacy scores than those who did not grow up in a rural community (F1,250=27.56, P<.001). Conversely, students who indicated that they grew up in a nonrural community reported significantly higher urban underserved self-efficacy scores than those who grew up in a rural community (F1,237=7.50, P=.007). The participants who stated primary care as their career interest (n=122) had higher rural self-efficacy scores than the participants who reported a preference for generalist specialties (general surgery, general psychiatry, and general obstetrics and gynecology) or other specialties (n=155) (F2,249=7.16, P=.001). Students who participated in the rural and urban underserved training program (n=49) reported higher rural self-efficacy scores (mean [SD], 21.06 [5.06]) than those who were not in the program (19.22 [4.22]) (t65=2.36; P=.022; equal variances not assumed). The weakest source of self-efficacy for rural practice in participants was vicarious experience. The weakest source of urban underserved self-efficacy was verbal persuasion.
Opportunities exist for strengthening weaker sources of self-efficacy for rural practice, including vicarious experience and verbal persuasion. The findings suggest a need for longitudinal research into self-efficacy and practice type interest in osteopathic medical students.
a Medical students who add an extra third year to undergraduate medical education.
b Primary care was family medicine, general pediatrics, and general internal medicine. Generalist specialties were general surgery, general psychiatry, and general obstetrics and gynecology.
a Valid percentages were used to account for missing data.
b Mean (SD) composite score for rural self-efficacy was 21.06 (5.06) and for urban underserved self-efficacy was 20.62 (4.70).
b Mean (SD) composite score for rural self-efficacy was 19.22 (4.22) and for urban underserved self-efficacy was 20.15 (3.06).
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