Rurally trained GPs more likely to practice in rural areas

6 Aug 2020

GPs with rural backgrounds or experience during their undergraduate or postgraduate medical training are more likely to practise in rural areas, according to the findings of a new systematic review in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA). 

Researchers from General Practice Training Queensland, and the Rural Clinical Schools of the University of Queensland in Hervey Bay and Toowoomba, reviewed 27 studies on the effects of rural pipeline factors (rural background; rural clinical and education experience during undergraduate and postgraduate/vocational training) on likelihood of later general practice in rural areas.

They reported that GPs practising in rural communities were significantly associated with having a rural background and rural clinical experience during undergraduate and postgraduate training. They suggested that the effects of multiple rural pipeline factors may be cumulative, and that the duration of an experience influences the likelihood of a GP commencing and remaining in rural general practice.

The relationship between clinical experience during medical school and later rural practice, particularly the longer rural experience provided by rural longitudinal integrated clerkships, rural rotations of longer than 3 months, and programs with specialised rural curricula, were highlighted.

The authors said their finding were in support of the Stronger Rural Health Strategy, which includes a range of incentives and targeted funding that promote rural training for medical students and doctors.

Read the current issue of the MJA here.