Results of physician licence examination and scholarship contract compliance by the graduates of regional quotas in Japanese medical schools: a nationwide cross-sectional survey
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Responding to the serious shortage of physicians in rural areas, the Japanese government has aggressively increased the number of entrants to medical schools since 2008, mostly as a chiikiwaku, entrants filling a regional quota. The quota has spread to most medical schools, and these entrants occupied 16% of all medical school seats in 2016. Most of these entrants were admitted to medical school with a scholarship with the understanding that after graduation they will practise in designated areas of their home prefectures for several years. The quota and scholarship programmes will be revised by the government starting in 2018. This study evaluates the intermediate outcomes of these programmes.
Cross-sectional survey to all prefectural governments and medical schools every year from 2014 to 2017 to obtain data on medical graduates.
All quota and non-quota graduates with prefecture scholarship in each prefecture, and all the quota graduates without scholarship in each medical school.
Primary outcome measures
Passing rate of the National License Examination for Physicians and the percentage of graduates who have not bought out the scholarship contract after graduation.
Most prefectures and medical schools in Japan participated in this study (97.8%–100%). Quota graduates with scholarship were significantly more likely to pass the National License Examination for Physicians than the other medical graduates in Japan at all the years (97.9%, 96.7%, 97.4% and 94.7% vs 93.9%, 94.5%, 94.3% and 91.8%, respectively). The percentage of quota graduates with scholarship who remained in the scholarship contract 3 years after graduation was 92.2% and 89.9% for non-quota graduates with scholarship.
Quota entrants showed better academic performance than their peers. Most of the quota
graduates remained in the contractual workforce. The imminent revision of the national policy regarding quota and scholarship programmes needs to be based on this evidence.
This study is funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology KAKENHI Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C), Grant Number (25460803).
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