SA is the only state without a rural doctor generalist training program and its absence is impacting regional medical centres, Rural Doctors Association of SA president Peter Rischbieth says.
While NSW and Vic are implementing regional training facilities to bridge the metropolitan-rural gap, Dr Rischbieth is not certain this will result in more GPs working in country SA.
“There may be more doctors from that regional clinic school wanting to go rural (but) whether they come to SA, we don’t know,” he said.
He said SA required more specific training positions dedicated to rural GP doctors to learn advanced skills such as delivering babies, anaesthesia, mental health and emergency medicines.
“This is a career path we want to encourage our young doctors and medical staff to follow,” he said.
“Being a country GP is a great career choice because of the opportunity to make a big difference to their community.”
Presently, Flinders University and the University of Adelaide operate rural clinics where undergraduate students can spend almost 12 months working in regional medical centres.
While it is a great start and foundation to their careers, Dr Rischbieth said the next step would be a junior doctor program for students upon graduation so they could identify the pathways to follow to become a fully accredited rural GP.
“The pathway is not clear for many of the graduates,” he said.
“We need to have dedicated rural training positions that are earmarked for those who have long-term future rural GP aspirations.”
Dr Rischbieth said the Liberal state government had announced it would “look into” more junior doctor training positions, with the announcement welcomed by the association.
He also wished for recommendations from the National Rural Health Commissioner Paul Worley, to be auctioned by the state government.
“We believe doctors undertaking rural generalists training programs are much more likely to be long-term rural doctors,” he said.