Perceptions and Attitudes toward Community Health and Interprofessional Education in Students with and without an Additional Community Medicine-Focused Program


The Rural Medical Education (RMED) Program at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford campus, and part of the National Center for Rural Health Professions, strives to recruit students from rural areas, who, after completing residency, return to rural Illinois as primary care physicians. RMED students meet monthly to learn about the community and public health in rural communities. Furthermore, they complete a 16-week rural preceptorship during their fourth year. During the fourth year of medical school, all RMED students, as well as the students following the regular curriculum, are asked to complete a survey, related to the understanding of medical students’ views of community and interprofessional education. We aimed to identify how the community-based curriculum affects the students’ understanding and appreciation of community as they go into rural health practice. The results showed that students in the RMED Program are more aware of the community they are part of, as well as being more interested in becoming part of their community. RMED students reported a statistically significantly higher rating of feeling appreciated and accepted by their community and rated their confidence in their abilities in the community statistically significantly higher. Interestingly, RMED students were not more likely to be more familiar with several health professions and programs within their community, compared to non-RMED students. Results comparing self-rated capabilities for RMED students within the community both before and after adding components of an interprofessional education curriculum showed no statistically significant changes. These results support previous research, while also providing more support for the development of successful interprofessional education courses.

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We would like to recognize the contributions of Dr. Shawn Rajnic, then a medical student, in data entry and preliminary literature review for this work.

Author information




All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation and data collection were performed by Michael Glasser and Martin MacDowell. Data analyses were performed by Dana Jungbauer. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Dana Jungbauer and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dana Jungbauer.

Ethics declarations

Ethics Approval and Consent to Participate

This study was approved by the University of Illinois College of Medicine Institutional Review Board on 01/06/2006. The reference number is 84410-14. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Consent for Publication

Consent for publication was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. Participants were informed that all data collected would be anonymous.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no competing interests.

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Table 1 Demographics for fourth-year students of the RMED Program (n = 196) and regular curriculum (n = 200)
Table 2 Self-rated familiarity with community health professions, programs, and resources in the fourth year for RMED students and non-RMED students
Table 3 Difference in self-rated familiarity with community health professions, programs, and resources between RMED students graduating before and after 2014, when the interprofessional education (IPE) curriculum was added
Table 4 Comparison of participation in community for year 4 RMED students and year 4 students of regular curriculum
Table 5 Comparison of participation in community activities in the past 2 years for year 4 RMED students and year 4 students enrolled in regular curriculum
Table 6 Difference in self-rated capabilities within the community between RMED students and non-RMED students
Table 7 Difference in self-rated capabilities within the community between RMED students graduating before and after 2014, when the interprofessional education (IPE) curriculum was added
Table 8 Comparison of interest in several domains at the start of medical school of year 4 RMED students and year 4 students in regular curriculum
Table 9 Comparison of amount of training in several fields during medical school for year 4 RMED students and year 4 students in the regular curriculum
Table 10 Descriptive statistics for “What aspect of your training or what experience has taught you the most about community medicine?”

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Jungbauer, D., Glasser, M. & MacDowell, M. Perceptions and Attitudes toward Community Health and Interprofessional Education in Students with and without an Additional Community Medicine-Focused Program. Med.Sci.Educ. (2021).

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  • Interprofessional education
  • Rural education
  • Rural medicine
  • Medical education
  • Community health