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Driving doctors to train in regional posts

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Sarah Herrmann, Yorke Peninsula Country Times

Yorke and Northern Local Health Network has announced its new Rural Doctors Program, which offers medical graduates three-to-five-year training contracts in the region, with the aim to empower junior doctors to became rural generalists.

YNLHN executive director of medical services Hendrika Meyer said the network is making a long-term investment to grow its medical workforce by allowing junior doctors to train in the country earlier in their careers and to complete their entire training in the region.

“Traditionally, the first two years of post-graduate medical training is done in metropolitan hospitals; during that time junior doctors often buy a house, find a partner, or decide to do speciality training,” Ms Meyer said.

“There is a rural doctor shortage across Australia, and it has been shown, if junior doctors are trained in rural areas earlier in their careers, they are more likely to eventually work in rural areas.

“We would love to bring trainees here who love the region and want to stay on and work here long-term.

“For those who do not stay, it is also helpful for any doctor who returns to the city to have some rural experience and to understand the unique challenges that face rural doctors.”

Ms Meyer said program supervisors have been located at health services in Kadina, Wallaroo, Moonta, Crystal Brook, Port Pirie, Clare and Jamestown, with trainees able to preference four rotations per year based on their location and interests, including general practice, aged care, emergency medicine, anaesthetics and obstetrics.

“We are offering trainees exciting clinical experiences that will provide a solid foundation for a career in rural medicine,” she said.

“We are also aiming to provide housing, relocation, and travel subsidies (and) to help in other ways if the trainees need childcare, employment for partners and to help them to get involved in the community in any way we can.”

In a Facebook video promoting the program, YNLHN director of clinical training Dr Eleanor Daniel said the network provides the best of both worlds.

“Trainees will have exposure to a wide variety of clinical presentations; they’ll treat patients from birth right up until older age and palliative care,” Dr Daniel said.

“It’s going to challenge them but it’s going to grow their skills and develop their confidence in a way they won’t get in a metro hospital.”

YNHLN will hold a Rural Doctors Program Immersion Weekend from April 19 to 21 when invited final-year medical students and interns will visit Wallaroo, Port Pirie and Clare Hospitals while enjoying the scenic and culinary highlights of the region.

The program’s recruitment process will begin later this year with positions for four interns and two second year postgraduate doctors opening in 2025. 

Yorke Peninsula Country Times 9 April 2024

This article appeared in Yorke Peninsula Country Times, 9 April 2024.

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