Doctors and the bush – money isn’t everything

Rural Health Workforce says it takes more than money to attract and recruit doctors to work in country areas.

Rural Health were referring to yesterdays NACCHO commmunique


“People move for different reasons, not just dollars,” says Rural Health Workforce CEO Greg Sam. “Family, lifestyle and professional opportunities are also very important.”

Mr Sam was responding to a Melbourne University research paper published today which suggests that city doctors would need a salary increase of up to $200,000 to work in some country areas.

The research, Getting Doctors into the Bush: GP’s Preferences for Rural Location, found that the desired compensation varied according to practice location and workplace conditions. It identified factors such as on-call workload, town size and local services as key influences on intention to move.

“Rural medicine itself presents wonderful personal and professional opportunities, where doctors get to experience broad scope of practice and a real sense of community connection,” Mr Sam says.

“We also need to make sure that prospective rural doctors and their families are well supported so they can continue providing the best of care to country communities

“This of course applies to all kinds of health professionals because workforce in the bush isn’t just about doctors – we need more nurses and allied health professionals as well. They also need to be properly incentivised and supported.”

Mr Sam says he agrees with the underlying theme of the research paper that financial incentives alone will not resolve the issue of rural workforce maldistribution.

“We’re pleased that the authors of this paper have recognised that appropriately supported practices not only provide high levels of professional satisfaction in rural areas but also lessen the importance of the workforce ‘problem’.

“It’s precisely the approach taken by our national network of Rural Workforce Agencies. They know from experience that things like access to locum support and professional training are very important to health practitioners.”

Rural Health Workforce is the peak body for the state and territory Rural Workforce Agencies. These not-for-profit organisations attract, recruit and support health professionals to meet the primary healthcare needs of rural and remote communities.

Media inquiries: Tony Wells, RHW Communications Manager, 0417 627 91

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