Medical Students commend the new Tasmanian single-employer rural GP training model to increase healthcare access for rural Australians
27th January 2022
The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) wholeheartedly commends the new single-employer GP training pilot model in Tasmania as a critical step toward alleviating the alarming shortage of doctors throughout rural Australia.
“The single-employer model is a crucial reform that can help draw junior doctors towards rural areas currently in dire need of better access to healthcare,” said Tish Sivagnanan, President of AMSA.
Currently, only 15% of graduating medical students are interested in a career in general practice. Modelling suggests that by 2032, Australia will have a shortfall of over 10,000 GPs with rural and regional areas being most adversely affected.
“Increasing interest in rural healthcare amongst medical students and junior doctors is the cornerstone of bolstering Australia’s rural workforce,” said Ms Sivagnanan.
Established research indicates poor employment benefits as a key deterrent to junior doctors pursuing general practice. Thus, AMSA welcomes the proposed single-employer model as it parallels the security and flexibility of other medical training programs by ensuring GP registrars have access to accrued leave entitlement such as sick leave, paid parental leave and long-service leave.
“This is a critical step that directly addresses both the geographical and specialty-based maldistribution across our nation by acknowledging and directly alleviating significant barriers faced by junior doctors in choosing to pursue general practice,” said Ms Sivagnanan.
Whilst AMSA commends the Federal and Tasmanian Governments for their innovative step toward drawing more junior doctors to rural general practice, it is vital that immediate changes must be enacted at every stage of the medical education and training pipeline, including and especially at the medical school level.
“Without a focus on ensuring quality rural and general practice placements throughout medical school, as well as increased recruitment and retention of rural-origin students, the Government cannot expect to effectively and holistically address the growing challenges being faced by Australia’s primary healthcare system,” claimed Gabrielle Dewsbury, Vice President of AMSA, and a rural-origin and trained medical student in Tasmania.
In 2023, AMSA has continued to call upon the Federal Government and stakeholders in medical education to:
● Commit funding to teaching primary care centres to improve their educational capacity and the appeal of a career in General Practice.
● Increase medical student placements and curriculum in general practice and rural settings with an aim for each student to be exposed to some general practice in every year of their degree.
● Prioritise rural-origin medical students in recruitment and retention throughout medical school.
“It’s about enabling medical students to go out rural and engage in that lifestyle from a clinical and non-clinical perspective. It’s about ensuring students have the chance to fall in love with, connect with and understand rural Australia. This ensures that when the time comes to make a decision regarding specialist training, pursuing rural medicine and general practice is seen as an exciting and inviting opportunity,” said Ms Dewsbury.
AMSA is the peak representative body for Australia’s 18,000 medical students. AMSA will continue to advocate for stronger, evidence-based, and sustainable reforms to Australia’s rural and primary healthcare systems at all stages of the medical training pipeline.
Tish Sivagnanan, AMSA President
0433 446 220
Mihan De Silva, Public Relations Officer
0406 944 567