Assisting primary care teams and patients in a culturally diverse periphery: impact on medical students’ future career choices

Nosaiba Rayan-Gharra, Lilach Malatskey, Marganit Ofir-Gutler, Rizan Sakhnini, Awni Yousef, Mohammad Khatib, Karl Skorecki, Sivan Spitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Medical students can assist in reducing healthcare disparities and promote health equity by engaging with rural communities and gaining insights into their unique healthcare needs. A two-arm student-delivered program was designed and implemented during COVID-19 in a social-geographic peripheral area to assist clinics with complex chronic and/or socially disadvantaged patients and improve preventive behavior in townships through home visits delivering community kits. Methods: We conducted a pre-post design study which included weekly structured medical student reports and monthly structured telephone interviews with clinic directors and municipal partners. Students completed pre-post program survey on their knowledge, skills, and capabilities to address chronic patients from diverse cultural backgrounds (n = 73). The Wilcoxon-Signed-Rank test for related samples was used to determine differences. Results: Following the program, the knowledge and awareness levels of students about working in the community (P < 0.001) and their knowledge of common chronic diseases were significantly improved (Mean Difference (MD) = 0.31; p < 0.001). The program significantly increased students’ interest to integrate into community care alongside a hospital (P = 0.012). Thematic analysis of student reports revealed improved insight into the role of primary care. Clinic directors (90%) were highly satisfied and reported that students became an integral part of the clinics’ teams. Conclusions: Integrating medical students into the community through primary-care clinics and home visits in diverse communities, exposed students to the interwoven effect of clinical and social determinants on health and improve their knowledge of common chronic diseases. Participation in the program encouraged students to consider a career in community care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number288
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 14 Mar 2024

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© The Author(s) 2024.


  • Chronic disease
  • Medical education
  • Medical students
  • Primary care
  • Social determinants of health


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