A solution to Australia's medical workforce shortage
3 November 2006
With Australia in grip of a national medical workforce shortage, a Sydney academic has received funding for a project this week to investigate ways of attracting and retaining health professionals into primary care.
Associate Professor Jill Thistlethwaite from the University's Centre for Innovation in Professional Health Education and Research (CIPHER) has received $198,000 for a project entitled "Attracting health professionals into primary care: Strategies for recruitment and retention".
The focus of the project will be a review of the current development of inter-professional practice, particularly in rural and remote areas and the effects that inter-professional education may have on career choice of professionals.
Provided by the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute (APHCRI), based at the ANU, the twelve month national initiative is worth $1.8 million in total, and is an attempt to inform policy solutions to one of the Australian health systems most pressing concerns.
'Workforce projections suggest an absolute fall in GP full time equivalents (FTEs) over the next decade. This reduction is not just due to the 'feminisation' of the workforce but also to younger doctors wishing to work fewer hours and the retirement of practitioners from the 'baby boomer' generation,' said Associate Professor Thistlethwaite
'The development of community health care teams is proposed as one method of dealing with falling GP numbers. This is already happening in rural and remote areas. GPs and nurses need team working skills and the ability to collaborate in inter-professional practice,' she said.
'Are the expanded nurse role and the primary health care team approach to general practice likely to attract or repel new graduates? and what effects might such education have on career choice of health professionals? These are the questions we would focus on in our review of available information in order to suggest changes to inform policy that would increase the primary care workforce,' said Associate Professor Thistlethwaite
Contact: Jake O'Shaughnessy
Phone: +61 2 9351 4312 or 0421 617 861