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Doctor News: Benefits to working as a rural GP

September 22, 2021 0 Comments

If you’re a GP looking to change jobs, after the 2021 Federal budget the benefits of working as a rural GP stack up even higher.

One thing that the COVID pandemic has taught is that modes of work and where we work are not set in stone, but, rather, are rapidly changing.

When it comes to recruitment in the healthcare sector, recruiting GPs to rural and remote areas has come with challenges. Over the years, the Federal government has tried a range of approaches to tackle this, such as immigration pathways set up to place skilled professionals like GPs in rural and remote settings. It has become incumbent on the Feds to become more creative in getting GPs to the bush.

This is something the 2021 Federal Government budget tackled head on.

What the budget said about Rural GPs

The biggest single measure in the budget to attract GPs to rural areas was a $65 million boost in payments to rural GPs.

This comes in the form of increased incentives to bulk-bill, with the increase linked to how rural or remote the GP is. The Minister for Regional Health, Mark Coulton, believed this was “an acknowledgement of the challenges faced by rural GPs.”

“It’s important to recognise that if we want them to go and service these communities, they need to be remunerated,” said Coulton.

The four tiers of bulk-billing incentives increases from 2022 are:

  • Medium rural towns from $9.80 up to $10.40
  • Small rural towns from $9.80 up to $11.05
  • Remote communities from $9.80 up to $11.70
  • Very remote communities from $9.80 up to $12.35

The Rural Doctors Association of Australia estimates this could represent as much as a $50000 a year pay increase for GPs in very remote communities.

Other measures

Prior to the 2021 budget measure, Minister for Health Greg Hunt pointed to the fact that there was “an increasing number of GPs training to work in regional, rural and remote areas.”

This has partially come from the Australian Government’s “2021 Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) Program”, through which it is estimated nearly 700 GPs will undertake training in regional areas. Mr Coulton pointed to evidence that GPs who undertook their training outside of urban areas are likely to stay in the regions to practice.

State governments have similar programs to encourage uptake in rural GP placements. For example, the Queensland Government has the “AGPT Rural Pathway” that provides benefits including additional financial support to registrars.

Photo by Mark Galer on Unsplash

Other reasons to go rural

Outside of actual incentives, there are any number of reasons that make working in rural or remote locations attractive. which we wrote about last year.

To recap, we identified five key reasons working in a rural or remote setting that might suit anyone in healthcare roles looking to change jobs.

A less hectic lifestyle

This is maybe the most distinct advantage of regional work – the chance to “reset” and change the pace, shape and tone of daily life to find a better work-life balance.

Community

Rural GPs get to know many patients by name and are quickly welcomed and integrated into the local community, particularly given that many small towns have a high participatory aspect to the local community.

Easy access

No more traffic jams, long queues at the supermarket or for school drop-offs, no long trips to work.

Costs

The cost of living in regional areas can be lower, particularly around real estate as prices have not been affected by property booms as much as in urban areas.

Better connected

Successive governments have been putting forward policies to ensure those living in the regions are better connected to more dense urban centres, for example by improving access to the internet, upgrading roads and supporting regional aviation networks.

Gorilla Jobs Can Help You

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