Regional councils ‘need support to lure GPs’

COUNCILS in regional areas need continued Commonwealth financial support to provide the professional, family and educational support necessary to attract and retain an adequate rural medical workforce, the Australian Medical Association says.

The AMA also wants governments and other stakeholders to encourage students from rural areas to enrol in medical school and to provide medical students with opportunities for “positive and continuing exposure to regional/rural medical training”.

The AMA’s five-point plan to build the rural medical workforce, released on 9 January, also advocates dedicated training pathways to ensure doctors are properly equipped to work in rural areas.

“Selecting a greater proportion of medical students with a rural background, and giving medical students and graduates an early taste of rural practice, can have a profound effect on medical workforce distribution,” AMA President Michael Gannon said.

“Our proposals to lift both the targeted intake of rural medical students and the proportion of medical students required to undertake at least one year of clinical training in a rural area from 25 per cent to 33 per cent are built on this approach,” he said.

Dr Gannon said that proper family support, including spousal opportunities/employment, education opportunities for children’s education, and housing and relocation subsidies, was also needed if rural medical workforce shortages were to be alleviated.