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- The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene,
Nonacademic Attributes Predict Medical and Nursing Student Intentions to Emigrate or to Work Rurally: An Eight-Country Survey in Asia and Africa
We sought to identify independent, nonacademic predictors of medical and nursing student intent to migrate abroad or from rural to urban areas after graduation in low‐ and middle‐income countries (LMIC). This was a cross‐sectional survey of 3,199 first‐ and final‐year medical and nursing students at 16 training institutions in eight LMIC. Questionnaires assessed demographics, career intentions, and preferences regarding selected career, location, and work‐related attributes. Using principal component analysis, student preferences were reduced into four discrete categories of priorities: 1) work environment resources, 2) location livability, 3) altruistic job values, and 4) individualistic job values. Students’ preferences were scored in each category. Using students’ characteristics and priority scores, multivariable proportional odds models were used to derive independent predictors of intentions to emigrate for work outside the country, or to work in a rural area in their native country. Students prioritizing individualistic values more often planned international careers (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.44, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.16–1.78), whereas those prioritizing altruistic values preferred rural careers (aOR = 1.82, 95% CI = 1.50–2.21). Trainees prioritizing high‐resource environments preferentially planned careers abroad (aOR = 1.38, 95% CI = 1.12–1.69) and were unlikely to seek rural work (aOR = 0.60, 95% CI = 0.49–0.73). Independent of their priorities, students with prolonged prior rural residence were unlikely to plan emigration (aOR = 0.67, 95% CI = 0.50–0.90) and were more likely to plan a rural career (aOR = 1.53, 95% CI = 1.16–2.03). We conclude that use of nonacademic attributes in medical and nursing admissions processes would likely increase retention in high‐need rural areas and reduce emigration “brain drain” in LMIC.