Department of Family Medicine and Primary Health Care, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa
Globally, there is a lower ratio of healthcare worker to population in rural compared to urban areas. Scholars are motivated by a number of factors to choose a career in health sciences. Determining these factors among rural and urban-origin students could inform recruitment and retention strategies to redress this imbalance.
To determine and compare motivating factors for a career in health sciences among Rural-Origin (ROS) and Urban-Origin Students (UOS) at three South African universities.
Three institutions (former University of Limpopo (Medunsa Campus), now Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU), University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and University of Cape Town (UCT) participated in the study 2011. Health science students completed a self-administered questionnaire. The SAS® (version 9.2) for Microsoft statistical software was used for analysis. Statistical significance was set at p ≤ 0.05.
A total of 1633 health sciences students participated in the study. Parents (505; 30.9%) and personal exposure (484; 29.6%) were the main motivating factors for both ROS and UOS, with significantly more UOS than ROS motivated by these factors (p < 0.001). The contribution of role models (93; 5.7%), friends (77; 4.7%), high school teachers (77; 4.7%), mentors (36; 2.2%) and university lecturers (18; 1.1%) was minimal, with no significant difference between UOS and ROS (p > 0.05).
There is need for the health care sector to support students’ families and encourage students’ personal exposure to health care facilities and personnel in order to motivate them towards a career in health sciences.
Keywords: Rural-origin students, Urban-origin students, Motivating factors, Career, Health sciences, South Africa.
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