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Why go rural?

Choosing to train and work rurally offers GP registrars a host of opportunities – from practising a breadth of medicine; to enjoying the perks of a laid-back lifestyle; to forming close-knit community bonds.

Experience a variety of medicine

Many GPs say training in a rural practice helped them become a better doctor. On any given day, you might treat rhinovirus, manage a pregnancy, administer immunisations and deal with an emergency. You’re likely to see patients in a clinical setting – be it at the GP practice or local hospital – but you may attend remote sites too, such as a farming accident.

Enjoy amazing continuity of care & strong community relationships

Your input can help shape the future of the community, and you’ll be looked upon as a respected leader. You’ll have the chance to practise transgenerational care, following patients from birth through to their own pregnancies and beyond, as well as supporting them in traumatic times, particularly with end-of-life care. Your patients will become your friends, and you’ll enjoy making connections down at the local shops, at the sporting ground, or while going for a swim at the beach or a hike in the bush.

Delight in a better work-life balance

Many people say that country and city time operate on different clocks, with rural areas running at a slower pace. There are no early morning traffic jams or people too busy to say hello. With more time on your hands, enjoy the chance to walk home for lunch, or pursue an outdoor interest such as hiking, surfing or growing your own vegetables.

Rural towns are also a great place to raise a family, with plenty of wide open spaces and considerable freedoms. As country communities are usually close-knit, this often offers a greater sense of well-being and safety for you and your family.

It’s also common for country doctors and their families or partners to get involved in the community, fostering that wonderful sense of connection. Sports clubs, trivia nights, community and special interests groups; the list goes on and on.

If all this sound good to you, you might like to read a little more about what country life is like in some of the rural towns across our training region, along with things to consider when making that relocation decision.

Take the opportunity to subspecialise

Rural GPs often subspecialise due to an undersupply of nearby specialists. You can pursue particular medical interests such as obstetrics, anaesthetics, Indigenous health, emergency medicine or mental health during your training via an Extended Skills or Advanced Specialist Training post. See specialised training for more information.

Benefit from a strong support network

Our training practices are well versed at guiding and supporting registrars, so you can thrive in your rural location. We have a core team of medical educators and GP supervisors who are always available, plus a dedicated Rural Registrar Liaison Officer (RLO) for one-on-one support. You will receive a formal orientation into your practice when you arrive, and staff often welcome you by organising a social event too to help you start making connections.

Take advantage of some great financial incentives

There are a range of enticing grants, bursaries and funded training posts for registrars, medical students and GPs interested in rural medicine.

Incentives for GPs

Rural Locum Assistance Program (LAP)

While being a locum isn’t a part of GP training, it is an option once you’re a registered GP. LAP (an Australian Government funded program) aims to increase the number of GP locums available in rural Australia with emergency medicine training. As an urban GP, you can earn a one-off $6,000 incentive to undertake such training in rural and remote Australia. You must also agree to take up a position as a general practice locum in rural and remote Australia for four weeks (20 working days) over two years. For more information, see the LAP website.

LAP also provides financial support for rural and remote GP obstetricians and anaesthetists. You can take leave from work for up to 14 days for recreation or CPD in MMM 2-7, and up to 28 working days for recreation and CPD leave in MMM categories 5-7. See the LAP  website for more information.

Rural Procedural Grants Program (RPGP)

Another great training incentive, the RPGP helps rural procedural GPs and GPs working in rural emergency medicine upskill. You can receive $2,000 per procedural training day for up to 10 days each 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. If you work in emergency mental health, you can also access an additional three days training support. The only catch is the training must enhance your procedural and/or emergency skills, and you must apply and be accepted for the grant before you do the training. See the RACGP website for more information.

 General Practitioner Procedural Training Support Program (GPPTSP)

How does $40,000 to undertake an advanced diploma in obstetrics or advanced skill in anaesthetics sound? That’s what’s on offer if you’re a rural-based GP with an interest in this area. This Commonwealth Government subsidy helps improve access to obstetric and anaesthetic services in remote areas of Australia. As a GP Fellow, you’re paid to train as you undertake an Advanced Diploma of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (DRANZCOG Advanced), or Advanced Rural Skills Training in Anaesthesia. See  the ACRRM website for more information.

Incentives for medical students

Rural Elective Bursary

In conjunction with the RACGP, the Australian Medical Students’ Association offers a reimbursement up to $1,000 for a select number of students undertaking a four-week elective placement in a rural or remote area. It’s open to all Australian medical students who are members of their university’s rural health club. For eligibility requirements, see https://www.amsa.org.au/blog/amsa-rural-health-rural-elective-bursary

John Flynn Placement Program (JFPP)

Open to all Australian medical students, the JFPP is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in rural medical practice. Over the course of your medical degree, you have the chance to undertake two-week annual placements with a rural doctor, whilst also living with a local host. Along with gaining valuable rural medicine experience, your accommodation and travel costs are covered. Spots are limited to 300 annually – see the JFPP website for more information.

Incentives for GP registrars

Workforce Incentive Program 

The Australian Government’s Workforce Incentive Program (WIP) aims to address a shortage of medical staff in rural areas. It offers doctors working in rural and remote areas an additional annual payment between $4,500 and $60,000, depending on your location and years of service. For more information about eligibility, see WIP – Doctor Stream.

ACRRM Funded Academic Posts

An academic post is a fantastic way to combine clinical and research knowledge. ACRRM provides funding for five academic posts each year, equivalent to a university lecturer salary (0.5 FTE). For more information about eligibility, see ACRRM Academic Posts

Learn more about rural medicine