Hospitals and Medical Practices across Australia are facing a shortage of qualified medical professionals, especially rural GP’s. The doctor shortage is having an even greater impact on smaller, rural communities, where adequate healthcare-provided by basic public health services and medical offices-may be several kilometers away.
For a General Practitioner willing to practice outside of a major metro area, a rural community offers unique benefits. Following is a list of benefits that GP’s should consider when outlining their top-down strategy for attracting top GP candidates to their rural organization-and retaining them.
Rural GP ‘s receive patient cases they might not normally come across in GP training or during their residency. Because a rural General Practitioner is known as a “jack-of-all-trades”, the GP will see a broader scope of illnesses. Since a specialty hospital or clinic might be inaccessible to the patient for geographic reasons, a rural General Practitioner needs to be proficient enough to provide a wider variety of services that might be passed off to a specialist if practicing in a big city. Invite potential candidates to shadow a long-time physician in the organization so they can see first-hand how rural primary care providers are able to tap into new skills while on the job.
GP’s practicing in rural or remote areas get paid in general higher rates, considering the overall lower cost of living in a smaller towns increase the total salary gap between metropolitan and rural based doctors. Given that the cost of living is often significantly less in rural areas, GP’s can purchase a larger house on several acres of land compared to the little real estate available if living and practicing in a large city.
Many states provide special financial benefits to encourage GP’s to practice in rural communities. The major incentive offered is often offered in terms of a Rural Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS). The amount of loan forgiveness is incrementally increased with each year the physician continues to practice in the rural community.
Gp’s who choose to practice in rural communities have the potential to become the “town Legend” Members of smaller towns recognize that local doctors have selected their community as their place to practice and can develop a greater allegiance and admiration for their GP than that of a city doctor who sees hundreds of patients daily.
Related to benefit 4, rural doctors have the ability to spend more time with their patients. GP’s in small towns are not ruled by bureaucracies that set quotas on how many patients a physician needs to see per hour. This increase in time affords the physician the opportunity to get to know the patient on a more personal level. For those physicians who may be considering, but are not sold on, a rural hospital as their residency of choice, invite them to meet with a few local patients who are supporters of the organization. These patients can attest to the 1:1 relationship that develops in a rural community.
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