Incentives for rural GPs
Financial incentives for rural GPs and GP registrars
In addition to diverse medicine and country living, rural practice offers good financial incentives.
Most financial incentives are funded by the Australian Government to attract GPs, GP registrars and medical students to areas most in need of professional medical personnel. Here’s what’s on offer. Note only some apply to GP registrars.
Just yesterday I saw a brand new baby and then an 85-year-old gentleman and everybody in between. You have variety and diversity in both presentations and ages of patients. So you have to be a good generalist.Dr Trish Rathie, GP in Toowoomba
Opportunities for GP registrars
General Practice Rural Incentives Program (GPRIP)
Many regional and rural areas experience a shortage of medical staff, including medical students, registrars and GPs. The government launched GPRIP to address this. Guidelines and category boundaries were recently revised, and the more remote locations result in increased incentive payments.
Participants in the program get paid after they’ve completed either eight active quarters providing Medicare services in MMM 3–5 areas or four active quarters in MMM 6–7 areas. An ‘active’ quarter is defined as ‘one where the value of Medicare billed items for eligible services provided in eligible locations meets the minimum $6,000. A full payment will be earned where the maximum threshold of $30,000 or more of eligible billing is reached per quarter’.
Each consecutive year of service entitles you to more money. You can also take leave of up to five years without losing your current status level.
Rural rent and travel subsidies
GPTQ registrars who work in rural areas may be eligible for rent and travel subsidies.
Opportunities for medical students
Rural Elective Bursary
The Australian Medical Students’ Association offers a reimbursement cost of up to $1,000 for students undertaking a four-week elective placement in a rural area or Aboriginal Medical Service. It’s open to all Australian medical students who are members of their university’s rural health club.
John Flynn Placement Program
This program is run by the Rural Workforce Agency Network and is open to all Australian medical students, with a limit of 300 places per year. If accepted, you’ll participate in four annual two-week placements with a rural doctor as they go about their everyday practice. This mentoring relationship will give you insights into a diverse range of health settings and situations that are unique challenges to rural health care. You’ll be expected to immerse yourself in the local community; you’ll live with a local host and be connected to a local person or organisation to help you get involved with social and cultural experiences of that community. You’ll receive a weekly stipend in addition to your travel and accommodation costs, plus valuable rural medicine experience.
Opportunities for GPs
Rural Locum Education Assistance Program (LEAP)
Locum work cannot be part of GP training, but is an option once you’re a registered GP. This program, funded by the Australian Government, aims to increase the number of GP locums available in rural Australia. It targets urban GPs who have an interest in becoming a rural locum. You can earn a one-off incentive of $6,000 to undertake emergency medicine training to upskill you for a rural sojourn. You must also agree to take up a position as a general practice locum in rural and remote Australia for a period of four weeks (20 working days) over two years. You don’t have to live in the community permanently, although once you go rural and discover its charms, you might just change your mind!
Rural Procedural Grants Program (RPGP)
Another ‘get paid to train’ incentive is the RPGP. Through this program, rural GPs who perform ‘procedural’ tasks in their practice can receive $2,000 per training day for up to 10 days per financial year. If you have ER duties at a rural hospital, you can receive up to three days of eligible training stipend per financial year. The only catch is the training must enhance your GP clinical skills and you must apply and be accepted for the grant before you do the training. If you think you qualify, you need to submit an ‘Application to Register’ for the RPGP through either RACGP or ACRRM, with supporting documentation.
General Practitioner Procedural Training Support Program – Obstetrics (GPPTSP)
How does $40,000 to undertake an advanced diploma in obstetrics sound? That’s what’s on offer if you’re a rural-based GP with an interest in this area. This Commonwealth Government subsidy was introduced to improve access to obstetric services for women living in remote areas of Australia. GPs are paid to train as they undertake an Advanced Diploma of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (DRANZCOG Advanced).
Changes at the last federal election mean applications for the next round of this program have been delayed, so keep an eye on RANCOG’s website for updates.