UCRH Director Prof Ross Bailie

The need to further expand medical services in non-urban Australia has attracted early New Year attention, with the peak body for University Departments of Rural Health seeking a national director to help build the health workforce in rural and remote Australia.

Meanwhile the Royal Australian College of General Practice has said building workforce capacity depends on exposing Australian medical students early to rural areas, rather than continuing to rely on placing overseas trained GPs.

 “I think it is far more attractive now for Australian graduates to work in rural areas,” said RACGP president Bastian Seidel who is urging the federal government to remove GPs from the skilled migration occupations list.

Australian graduates are now able to meet the workforce needs of rural Australia, where overseas trained doctors are currently required to work for up to ten years, he added.

The recruitment process launched by the Australian Rural Health Network (ARHEN) is aimed at finding “a strategic thinker with strong policy and advocacy skills, an effective communicator, and [someone] experienced in government.”

ARHEN was established in 2001 and is the peak body for 12 University Departments of Rural Health located in every State and the Northern Territory.

Its vision is to achieve better rural and remote health through learning, with the guiding purpose of leading and initiating the rural and remote health agenda in the areas of education and research. (See the Australian Rural Health Network for more.) 

In our region the University Centre for Rural Health North Coast has established a strong reputation for coordinating placements for medical, nursing and allied health students from a range of universities in local hospitals, GP practices and other clinical settings.

Students undertake clinical work across the Northern Rivers, with many taking up positions here after graduation.

“This work makes a vital contribution to improving health services in this region and in regional areas across Australia,” said UCRH director Prof Ross Bailie, himself a former GP.