How Accreditation Practices Impact on Building a Rural Medical Specialist Workforce

2 Dec 2019

The AMA Council of Doctors in Training (AMACDT) has made a submission to the Department of Health's consultation about how accreditation practices impact on building a rural medical specialist workforce.

The submission highlights the challenges to accrediting training places in rural and regional centres, including access to sufficient clinical case load, access to professional development, and professional isolation. Others include financial support to attend training in metropolitan centres and opportunities for employment post training. Research suggest other issues related to attracting specialists to rural areas include continual on-call shifts, difficulty finding locum cover, lack of privacy and children’s schooling. 

It suggests a number of strategies be explored including but not limited to reviewing training position accreditation standards, providing extended cross-specialty training for trainees seeking to practice in rural and regional areas, prioritising the selection of trainees with a demonstrated rural practice intent into training programs and offering extra points to applicants with a rural and regional background and/or work history in the selection process to facilitate an increase in trainee entering training who have a desire to work in rural and regional areas.

The submission also references the AMA position statement on Regional Training Networks – 2014 which provides a blueprint to improve medical workforce maldistribution by enhancing specialist and generalist training opportunities, and supporting prevocational and vocational trainees to live and work, in regional, rural and remote areas.

The model encourages the establishment of networks to support specialist training pathways in rural and regional areas, the creation of new or transfer of existing accredited training posts to rural areas and building on existing infrastructure such as rural clinical schools and universities, with the involvement of specialty colleges. This would shift the focus to training in rural and regional location, rotating trainees through metropolitan centres for advanced training where possible and provide opportunities for trainees to develop mentoring and networking contacts.