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Boosting jobs key to unlocking doctor shortage

29 June 2017
No shortage of doctors wanting jobs in regional Australia

Boosting job opportunities is the key to unlocking doctor shortages in the Central West, says Dr Mark Arnold, head of the University of Sydney’s School of Rural Health.

“Country communities deserve better access to healthcare and as a doctor working in Dubbo, Gloucester and Orange, I know this all too well,” Dr Arnold said.

“Currently, there is no shortage of existing students and junior doctors who want to complete a long-term rural-placements and find jobs in regional and rural areas.

“For example, there were more than six applications received for every 2017 internship at public hospitals in Orange and Dubbo.

Country communities deserve better access to healthcare and as a doctor working in Dubbo, Gloucester and Orange, I know this all too well.
Associate Professor Mark Arnold, Head of Rural Health, University of Sydney

“At graduation, 90 per cent of University of Sydney medical graduates that have done extended rural placements would prefer to work in rural areas.

“What’s lacking is job opportunities for junior doctors to continue their work and specialist training in rural areas. Also, there is no mechanism to compel junior or senior doctors to work in regional Australia.

What’s lacking is job opportunities for junior doctors to continue their work and specialist training in rural areas.
Associate Professor Mark Arnold, Head of Rural Health, University of Sydney

No medical school can promise rural and regional communities that its medical graduates will work in their communities. Opportunity is the determining factor.

“Therefore, we need a bigger rural medical career training pipeline for doctors who want to work in regional and rural areas, long term.

“No medical school can promise rural and regional communities that its medical graduates will work in their communities. Opportunity is the determining factor.
Associate Professor Mark Arnold, Head of Rural Health, University of Sydney

“Firstly, we need more intern positions available in rural and regional hospitals and we are encouraging the federal government to make this happen.

“Secondly, we need to extend the rural training pipeline, so that after doing their intern training for a year or two, junior doctors can apply for postgraduate specialty training jobs.”

Australia is graduating more doctors than ever before with 3,668 graduates in 2016, compared to 2139 in 2008. At this rate, by 2030 Australia will have an oversupply of 7,000 doctors who will be unable to continue their path to specialty training in both regional and metropolitan areas.

Dan Gaffney

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