A taste of country life is enough to get young doctors interested in rural or regional jobs, according to a new study published in the Medical Journal of Australia.
“We saw a much more positive attitude towards working in regional or rural areas after even a three-week placement,” said lead researcher, Professor Julian Wright, from the University of Melbourne’s Rural Health Academic Centre.
The University of Melbourne has a clinical campus in Ballarat, and puts students into work experience at Ballarat Base Hospital, as well as near Shepparton, where the surveyed students did their placements.
Professor Wright said that because of the shortage of health staff in regional areas, it was important for all health students to see the need in non-metropolitan areas.
“As well as doctor shortages, there is also a lack of Allied health staff and nurses,” he said.
While the survey only showed a more positive attitude towards working in the country, Professor Wright said because they were final-year medical students the placements had come at an important time, and that even if the young doctors ended up practising in Melbourne, they would have a better understanding of patients who had come long distances for care.