Doctors want more money for work in rural areas
A new study has found that money is the key factor influencing doctors’ reluctance to work in rural areas, reports Sean Jelenika.
The University of Melbourne released a report this week revealing that Australian doctors would want a significant pay incentive to work in rural and remote practices.
The study found that most of the 4000 doctors surveyed would require at least $116,000 pay rise before moving to a rural or remote area for work.
However, Jenny Johnson, CEO of Rural Doctors Association of Australia, says that there is more to consider than the financial aspect of the move.
“There are a number of barriers, and of course one of them is opportunity for partners and children,” she said. “These people have partners obviously and families and expecting those people to uproot their families and move to rural areas is a challenge.”
Ms Johnson also suggested that working in an urban environment creates new challenges for medical students and practitioners, including a wider range of conditions they are required to treat.
“I think we need incentives to be flexible because what suits one medical community is not what is needed in another community,” she said.
The aim of the study was to uncover the main factors which doctors think about when considering a rural move and so to work out how best to attract them to a remote area.
Professor Guyonne Kalb, co-author of the “Getting Doctors Into The Bush” report hopes that the study may help design a more effective policy for rural work.
“[This study] is feeding into the discussion about what would need to be done to attract doctors to the areas that have a shortage,” she said.
The report covers eight different aspects of their medical practice, including working hours, the ratio of calls and the location itself.
Professor Kalb said: “we describe the aspects of the job and the location and ask them whether they would prefer that job or their current job.”
“We’re not directly asking doctors what they want, what the study does is slightly different, we’re giving them packages of jobs,” she said.
However, the Rural Doctors Association says that current practices drawing young doctors into remote areas are still effective, including their proposal for the National Advanced Rural Training Program.
Jenny Johnson, CEO, said that this sort of program provides new skills and confidence for young doctors to be able to practice in rural and remote communities.
“Evidence of this sort of system in some states shows that it’s been very successful in attracting younger doctors,” she said.
“We would like to see a similar system rolled out on a national basis.”
Professor Kalb said that knowing what is important to doctors when it comes to decisions about rural work could help direct the money in an efficient way.
“I hope that the evidence that provides this research can feed into, for example a senate inquiry that’s going out next week, and we’ll help policy makers to target funding to areas where it will be most effective,” she said.
Original story from The Wire.