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New funding for hundreds of junior doctors in rural settings a welcome measure

24th August 2023

The Australian Medical Students’ Association welcomes the Federal Government’s $75.75 million funding toward the John Flynn Prevocational Doctor Program (JFPDP) for states and the Northern Territory to deliver rural primary care rotations for hospital-based prevocational doctors.

“This funding will be critical in supporting and enhancing the accessibility for a new generation of junior doctors to train rurally after medical school,” said Tish Sivagnanan, President of AMSA.

“Early, consistent and longitudinal exposure in rural and regional healthcare, associated with a strong financial and social support, is the cornerstone to ensuring we are attracting doctors to practise in rural Australia,” said Ms Sivagnanan.

“The projected increase of rural primary care rotations for pre-vocational doctors from 440 rotations in 2022 to 1000 rotations in 2026 will directly contribute to the growth of Australia’s rural primary healthcare workforce, not just now, but for the future of our nation too,” said Gabrielle Dewsbury, Vice President of AMSA.

“With rural communities continuing to face disparities in access to quality and timely healthcare and significant shortages in doctors, the JFPDP will improve retention of medical graduates in the regions and create more stable and longitudinal healthcare options for rural Australians,” said Ms Dewsbury.

In particular, AMSA acknowledges the importance of the JFPDP in strengthening the teaching and training capacity of the health workforce in the Northern Territory, which has some of the most remote communities across Australia.

AMSA has strongly advocated for greater and more targeted funding toward quality and accessible rural healthcare opportunities throughout both medical school and the pre-vocational junior doctor space both directly in consultation with the Federal Health Department and in numerous Pre-Budget Submissions.

“The solution to fixing Australia’s rural doctor shortages and workforce maldistribution must be comprehensive and address all stages of the medical training pipeline including medical school,” said Ms Dewsbury.

“Without direct funding targeting the longitudinal and quality placement of medical students in rural and regional healthcare, we are failing to comprehensively address a pivotal point at which doctors often decide upon a career in rural medicine,” said Ms Sivagnanan.

AMSA calls upon the Federal Government to:

  • Reinstate funding toward a similar program to the JFPDP aimed at medical students to ensure exposure to a rural career occurs from the very beginning of a doctor’s training pathway.
  • Ensure that a program designed for medical student prioritises longitudinal and quality rural placements.
  • Fund the recommendations outlined in the National Medical Workforce Strategy addressing the maldistribution of doctors in rural and regional Australia.

AMSA is the peak representative body for Australia’s 18,000 medical students. AMSA continues to advocate for rural health outcomes and accessibility and support of medical students and junior doctors learning and practising in rural, regional and remote Australia.

Media contacts

Tish Sivagnanan, AMSA President
[email protected]

Mihan De Silva, Public Relations Officer
[email protected]
0406 944 567
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