There are many reasons GPs train and practise rurally. Some choose to go rural for their family and the lifestyle, some want the challenge and experience, some go for the community and others are required to. 1. You can use all the tools in your skills bag GPTQ Director of Education, Dr John Buckley says the main reason many GPs make a rural move is because it’s where ‘the health need is the greatest’. These GPs get to use all the skills they’ve worked so hard to gain during their training. Many GPs want to practise where they’ll have the most impact. Often a rural post ticks this box, particularly if you work in Indigenous health. “You can work in the hospital as well as the practice environment. Yes, you can do those things in the city too, but often you have to get through more barriers and there’s often less need,” he says. 2. You’ll learn from some of Australia’s best medical educators GPTQ has a team of experienced medical educators who are passionate about and dedicated to rural medicine. These people include Dr Patricia Stuart, Dr Mike Hurley, Dr Rebecca Lock, Dr Trish Rathie and Dr Kathy Kirkpatrick. We also have an inspired team of GP supervisors with practices in regional Queensland. They are exceptional doctors and keen to welcome registrars into their practices. 3. You’ll experience a range of patient presentations The local GP often becomes the ‘go to person’ for the community’s medical needs. GP supervisor based in Goondiwindi, Dr Sue Masel, says rural medicine exposes doctors to the full spectrum of patient care, from delivering babies to palliative care. “Being rural is the quintessential family medicine,” she says. “No one expects you to be a referral machine. You are really involved in essential health advocacy with the patient. It’s the gold standard for family medicine, and if that attracts you, then you should live rurally.” 4. You can expand your skills with a specialised placement Many rural towns lack specialists. This gives an opportunity for GPs and registrars to develop a particular clinical interest. Dr Sue Masel, for example, is a GP with skills in obstetrics and anaesthetics. GP training offers registrars the opportunity to train in a specialised area via a placement in Extended Skills, Advanced Specialised Training or Advanced Rural Skills Training. Dr John Buckley says: “If you want to be a GP who does a lot of obstetrics, or a GP who does some anaesthetics, or a GP who sees a lot of mental health patients in the absence of a good psychiatry service, the rural environment is exactly where you need to be.” 5. You can train while on a 457 temporary visa GPTQ welcomes doctors who are on 457 temporary resident visas into the AGPT program via the Rural Pathway. John believes this group of GPs should view their rural training as something that will enhance their GP experience. John says many overseas doctors also wonder whether they’ll be accepted in the community and he’s seen a real shift in this over the past 20 years. “The acceptance of people from overseas into rural communities has grown enormously,” he says. “I think there used to be a lot of reticence about any break away from the traditional, older, white, male rural doctor. But now communities embrace a doctor who wants to be in a practice that supports that doctor. I see almost no barriers now,” he says. 6. Getting a place on the Rural Pathway is less competitive There are limited training places available on both the General Pathway and the Rural Pathway. Most applicants select the General Pathway to avoid any restrictions on where they can train. There are many more applicants than places. If you’re considering a career in rural medicine, it’s worth selecting the Rural Pathway to increase your chances of securing a training placement. The training opportunities are fantastic, and you can practice anywhere once you complete your fellowship. Dr John Buckley says: “We urge applicants to consider the Rural Pathway if they’re keen to live in a rural community during their training. We have seen past registrars try to commute to rural practices from Brisbane, and this is unsustainable.” 7. Small communities are ideal for family life Country people are usually close-knit, which can bring a sense of well-being and safety for you and your family. Many people say that country and city time operate on different clocks. In rural areas, the pace is usually slower. There are no early morning traffic jams or people too busy to say hello. In the country, there are opportunities for kids to play in ample green spaces and quiet cul-de-sacs. There are sporting teams and social activities available too.