Background: Working directly with rural and remote communities, an established rural generalist and general practice training program has expanded its longstanding workforce retention and training model by directly recruiting doctors to targeted communities with high medical workforce need. The 2018-20 pilot of the new strategy successfully secured the services of 11 doctors to 13 of the Australias hardest to fill locations, including 4 remote Aboriginal Medical Services, bringing a more stable workforce and enhanced continuity of care to the communities.
Method: By collaborating with Rural Workforce Agencies, State Government Departments of Health and remote communities, locations of high medical workforce need were identified and selected based on the following criteria: Potential for providing continuing comprehensive whole-patient medical care 1. Geographic remoteness Medical workforce need Equity in geographic distribution across Australia The recruitment of a doctor to a remote community was undertaken by linking candidates to locations identified as being of high workforce need. Entry to the 3-4-year rural generalist and general practice training program, was guaranteed, on the attainment of minimum entry standards.
Results: The 2018-20 initial pilot of the program has successfully recruited 11 full-time doctors to 13 remote locations with longstanding medical workforce deficits, including; Cunnamulla (QLD), Mt Isa (QLD), Cooktown (QLD), Lightning Ridge (NSW), Bourke (NSW), Boggabri (NSW), Mallacoota (VIC), Queenstown & Rosebery (TAS), King Island (TAS), Wadeye & Warruwi (NT), and Nhulunbuy (NT).
Discussion: This targeted recruitment model has brought a more stable workforce and enhanced continuity of care to the participating communities, as well as providing career progression to specialist qualifications for the recruited doctors.
Implications for practice: Initial findings suggest that the linking of high-quality vocational training to a specific location is an effective strategy to recruit and retain doctors to rural, remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities with high medical workforce need.