The impact of localised general practice training on Queensland’s rural and remote general practice workforce.

Abstract

Background: The diverse rural medical education initiatives that have been developed in Australia to address the medical workforce maldistribution have been less successful in many smaller and remote communities. This study explored the factors that attract and retain GP registrars and supervisors and the impact that localised training (i.e.,rural and remote workplace-based training and support) has on both GP registrars and supervisors, and the GP workforce in rural and remote underserved areas.

Methods: A purposive sample of 79 GP registrars, supervisors, practice managers, health services staff andcommunity representatives living and working in areas of low GP workforce in rural and remote Australia were invited to participate in semi-structured interviews and one focus group divided over two phases. Thematic analysis was used to explore themes within the data.

Findings: Attractors and barriers to rural and remote practice were identified as the main themes. Attractors include family and community lifestyle factors, individual intrinsic motivators, and remote medicine experiences. In contrast, barriers include work related, location, or family factors. Further, localised GP training was reported to specifically influence GP registrars and supervisors through education, social and financial factors.

Conclusion: The current study has provided a contemporary overview of the issues encountered in expanding GP training capacity in rural and remote communities to improve the alignment of training opportunities with community and workforce needs. Strategies including matching scope of practice to registrar interests have been implemented to promote the attractors and lessen the barriers associated with rural and remote practice.