THE Rural Health Workforce Australia (RHWA) is encouraging young doctors to “go rural” and practice in regional and rural communities.
RHWA this week launched Go Rural Australia, a campaign which includes rural-skills days, regional bus tours and networking events.
It comes in response to figures which show Australia is at risk of being 600 GPs short of its needs by 2018, putting further strains on rural health care.
Rural Health Workplace Victoria spokesperson Tony Wells said the campaign was about inspiring the next generation of doctors to take on rural GP clinics.
He said a lot of country doctors were approaching retirement and many young doctors were aiming to work at metropolitan hospitals or studying medical sub-specialistion rather than general practice.
He said working as a rural GP had a lot of things going for it.
“There’s tremendous professional variety and a great sense of personal connection with the community,” he said.
“You can live very well in the country and it’s a great place to raise a family.
“There’s affordable real estate, you’re not stuck in traffic jams for hours each day and for someone just starting off, you can really do well.”
Former Albury resident Nicola Rodd finished her Monash University medical degree this year and is excited to move to Bendigo as a first-year doctor.
The 24-year-old has already had a taste of central Victorian life, working at Bendigo Health for half of her fourth year.
“I really loved the experience I had in fourth year,” she said.
“It is a very friendly hospital and I got lots of great experience.”
Ms Rodd said she was attracted to practising in a regional centre because of the professional opportunity and also the lifestyle.
“The way you practice is broader than in the city where they’re more sub-specialised,” she said.
“Also I grew up in the country so I really enjoy living in rural towns. I really love the community spirit.”
Ms Rodd was an active member of the Monash division of the National Rural Health Students’ Network, which brings together rural health students through their universities.
“It made sense to get involved at a student level and to promote it to people who might find it as interesting as I do,” she said.
She said many people in her year were taking up opportunities in rural and regional communities.