Question special

As residency spots are becoming harder to secure, students are being forced to apply to more programs. Many less competitive programs are in more rural locations, which may have different resources and areas of focus in training than major medical centers. How different are such programs really, with respect to clinical and non-clinical opportunities such as research and teaching? For less competitive students primarily interested in subspecializing, what options should be considered? Beyond networking, are there other ways to strengthen one's fellowship application to an urban location coming from a rural residency program? For students interested in academic medicine and research, is it instead a good idea to consider less competitive specialties in order to secure a residency spot at a major medical center?