Rural Doctor Drought Needs Youth Fix

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14th October 2010, 10:01am - Views: 1023

Rural Doctor Drought Needs Youth Fix

Australia's rural doctor shortage has to be tackled head-on by convincing more junior medicos to pursue careers in the bush, according to Rural Health Workforce Australia CEO Dr Kim Webber.

"As a country, we need to sell the message that life as a rural GP is financially and personally rewarding," she says. "There's plenty of interesting work in rural and remote health for doctors who want to expand their horizons."

Dr Webber was commenting on the latest Australian Government figures which show that regional Australia continues to suffer from a rural doctor drought.

A report released this week by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare says there are only 187 medical practitioners per 100,000 people in outer regional areas compared to 376 per 100,000 in major cities. Other data shows there are 999 patients per GP in the city compared to 1,425 per GP in the bush.

Dr Webber says the positive aspects of rural practice need to be highlighted so that more medical students and young doctors see it as an attractive career option.

"We know, for example, that rural GPs undertake more diverse work than their metropolitan colleagues and that this makes for better job satisfaction.

"Research has also shown that earnings for GPs in outer regional, rural and remote Australia are 11.5% higher than GPs working in major cities. Plus there are a range of incentives for rural GPs, including new payments of up to $120,000 for city doctors to relocate to rural and remote areas.

"To help us spread the word, our organisation has appointed a number of rural doctors who are visiting universities and conferences to champion the benefits of being a rural GP. We are also advocating the kind of things that will attract young health professionals to the bush such as multi-disciplinary working environments and improved regional infrastructure."

Rural Health Workforce Australia is the peak body for the state and territory Rural Workforce Agencies which handle recruitment of rural and remote doctors.

"There are a range of factors that determine where someone chooses to work and our Rural Workforce Agencies are very experienced at matching doctors to the right community," says Dr Webber.

GPs interested in exploring careers in rural and remote health are encouraged to contact their state or territory Rural Workforce Agency. For details, go to

Rural Health Workforce Australia (RHWA) is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to improve rural and remote communities' access to primary medical services. RHWA provides policy advice to government and delivers programs that support the recruitment and retention of GPs and other rural health workers.

Media enquiries:
Tony Wells,
Communications Manager,
Rural Health Workforce Australia
Ph: 03 9860 4706 Mobile: 0417 627 916

SOURCE: Rural Health Workforce Australia

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