A frequently cited rationale for increasing the participation of students from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds is that it will create a workforce who will choose to work in low SES and medically underserviced communities. Two theoretical arguments, one that supports and one that contradicts this assumption, are proposed to explain the practice location intentions of medical students which we examine in a longitudinal analysis. SES background and future intentions of 351 applicants to an undergraduate medical degree were assessed at Time 1, with intentions re-assessed one year later for 96% of those who were enrolled as medical students. Students from very low (and very high) SES backgrounds indicated lower intention to practice in low SES or medically underserviced areas than those from mid-range SES backgrounds. Males and students from non-English speaking backgrounds indicated less desire to work in low SES areas, perhaps explained by high aspirational motivation. SES accounted for a relatively small amount of variance in practice intentions. Alternate predictors of practice location, including individual values and training effects, and their implications for selection practice, are discussed.
- Medically underserviced areas
- Practice location intentions
- Socioeconomic status
- Widening participation