Overall, trainees agreed that incentives and improved support for rural training is more effective than mandatory rural placements/bonding to attract and retain trainees and reduce the stigma of rural training. Suggested incentives/supports included improved pastoral care and mentorship, increased financial incentives for rural training, increased research support, decentralisation of exams and courses, and financial incentives for supervisors to ensure they are supported for non-clinical time. It was agreed that ensuring trainees had positive experiences when on rural rotations is critical for retention of trainees, and thus the sustainability of the rural medical workforce.
Professional isolation was identified as a major issue for rural trainees, with a lack of networking opportunities, and few daily interactions with colleagues negatively impacting doctor wellbeing and career progression. A lack of exposure to rural training in medical school and during prevocational training was highlighted as an area that could use significant improvement to enhance perceptions of living and working in rural areas.