Making the case for rural general practice

Considering practising medicine in the bush?
Find out why you’ll love being a rural GP.

Contribute to a patient’s primary, secondary, and tertiary care

In rural general practice, it is possible for you to contribute to the primary, secondary, and tertiary care of your patients. Urban GPs are unlikely to be able to care for their own patients in the hospital. Providing the full spectrum of care is beneficial to the GP who can follow the patient through the healthcare system and must use a wider range of skills to meet the patient’s healthcare needs. Patients will also trust a familiar face and appreciate being treated by a doctor who is familiar with their story and medical history.

“As a rural GP, I can do pre-pregnancy counselling, diagnose and manage the pregnancy, deliver the baby, give the child the immunisations, and manage the immediate and long-term health of mother and baby.” – Dr Bob Vickers

Additional skills are needed

Many rural GPs have additional skill sets, called Advanced Specialised Training (AST) (often referred to as extended skills or advanced skills), that provide additional services commonly through a secondary health service or hospital.

Common AST skills include obstetrics, anaesthetics, emergency medicine, mental health, and paediatrics (but the list does not stop there).

Rural GPs with AST are now called Rural Generalists—a subspecialist rural GP with a suite of additional skills to service their community.

“Having additional skills – not only to operate independently but to also work better across multiple multidisciplinary teams – attracted me to rural general practice.” – Dr Dan Wilson

Love where you live

Those who work rurally also reap the benefits of living rurally. What most people love about living rurally is the tight-knit and supportive community.

You will also enjoy the clean air, open spaces, more affordable housing, and no peak-hour traffic.

“[In Foster] I saw the appreciation of the GP’s patients, the warm camaraderie of the GP clinic staff, the connectedness of the community.” –  Dr Tom Ponsonby

Diverse and complex cases

Patients who would be managed by a subspecialist in a metropolitan setting are mainly managed by their GP in rural areas. This is because the subspecialist may be hours away or there are limited appointments available. As a rural GP trainee, you will most likely assess and manage more diverse and complex cases.

Rural GPs earn more, on average

According to a 2018 study, the median annual income for the following regions is as follows:

Metro: $172,433
Regional: $193,430
Remote: $204,106

There are numerous government incentive schemes and financial incentives for both GP trainees and GPs in rural and remote areas. Within general practice, these areas of need are classified under a Distribution Priority Area (DPA). This means that there are not enough doctors available to tend to the needs of the people living in the area. These areas are scattered across rural and remote Australia.

There are also Government payments to help support GPs to relocate to rural and remote areas, including the General Practice Rural Incentives Programme (GPRIP) through which eligible GPs can access from $12,000 to $60,000 p.a.

…and many more reasons!

Doctors in most rural and regional areas continue to be short supply. With a progressive undersupplied of GPs forecast over the ten years to 2030, general practice offers strong prospects of future employment, especially in these regional and rural areas.