AMA calls for rural councils to receive continued support for medical workforce


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, according to the Australian Medical Association.

The AMA has released a five-point plan to build the rural medical workforce, advocating dedicated training pathways to ensure doctors are equipped to work in rural areas.

The AMA Rural Workforce Initiatives plan outlines five key areas where Governments and other stakeholders must focus their policy efforts:

  • Encourage students from rural areas to enrol in medical school, and provide medical students with opportunities for positive and continuing exposure to regional/rural medical training;

  • Provide a dedicated and quality training pathway with the right skill mix to ensure doctors are adequately trained to work in rural areas;

  • Provide a rewarding and sustainable work environment with adequate facilities, professional support and education, and flexible work arrangements, including locum relief;

  • Provide family support that includes spousal opportunities/employment, educational opportunities for children’s education, subsidies for housing/relocation and/or tax relief; and

  • Provide financial incentives to ensure competitive remuneration.

“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.

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