How much do rural doctors make?

Australia is renowned for its vast landscapes, from its bustling urban centers to its expansive rural areas. For medical professionals, this geographical diversity translates to varying opportunities and challenges, especially in terms of remuneration. Rural doctors, in particular, play an invaluable role in providing essential healthcare services to communities that might otherwise have limited access. But how does their compensation reflect this?

A doctor's ability to earn varies - It depends on what level of training they are at and what specialty of medicine they are in, but this is slightly different when it comes to rural medicine, as most rural doctors need to work as rural generalists across a range of specialties. This article will cover how much rural doctors are earning in Australia, and how you can increase your earnings.

Rural doctors have the ability to earn more and working as a rural doctor offers a range of benefits both personally and professionally.

The medical practices in rural areas are interesting and operate in a unique way. Doctors are likely to be dealing with more complex health concerns day-to-day than a typical GP and get the opportunity to experience just about everything over your time.

Remuneration benefits for rural doctors:

The Australian healthcare system recognises the critical role of rural doctors and provides incentives to attract and retain them. These incentives can make a significant difference to the average salary of a rural doctor.

Rural incentive programs: The Australian Government's General Practice Rural Incentives Program (GPRIP) offers financial incentives to general practitioners (GPs) to practise in rural and remote areas. The more remote the area, the higher the incentive.

Higher billings: Due to a lower doctor-patient ratio in rural areas, GPs often see a higher patient turnover. This can translate to higher billings, especially if the doctor operates a private practice.

Relocation and retention grants: Some states and territories offer relocation grants for doctors willing to move to rural areas. Additionally, retention grants are provided to those who commit to practising in a rural setting for a specified period.

Rural vs urban salary comparison:

While rural doctors often benefit from the above incentives, it's essential to understand how their earnings compare with their urban counterparts. Urban doctors may have a more consistent patient flow and access to larger medical facilities, translating to potentially steady income. However, they also face stiffer competition, higher operational costs if they run a practice, and the absence of rural-specific incentives.

On the other hand, rural doctors might face challenges such as limited access to specialty equipment or services, requiring them to be more versatile in their care. But with the rural incentives and potentially higher billings, many rural doctors find their earnings comparable to, if not exceeding, their urban counterparts.

A ballpark figure, suggests that a rural GP's base salary can range from AUD$200,000 to AUD$350,000 annually, with the potential for even higher earnings based on billings and additional incentives. This range can vary based on the remoteness of the location, the doctor's experience, and specific contractual arrangements.

Rural and remote locum doctors in Australia are often in high demand, leading to competitive remuneration packages. The Australian government and medical institutions provide incentives to attract doctors to these underserved areas. On average, locum doctors in rural settings can earn between AUD$1,200 to AUD$3,500 per day, depending on their specialty, experience, and the remoteness of the location. This rate often includes accommodation and travel allowances. The substantial earning potential, combined with the experience of working in diverse settings and making significant community impacts, makes rural and remote locum positions appealing for many medical professionals.

Why do rural doctors earn more?

There are many contributing factors as to why rural doctors earn more in Australia - you will have to work as more of a generalist, you'll have to base yourself in an isolated location, and you can expect to have more responsibility. Rural doctors also have the Rural Doctor's Association of Australia advocating for them and negotiating higher rates.

How to increase your rural doctor's salary

Despite a dip during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, demand for rural doctors across Australia is still high. This means job and earning opportunities are strong, and it's the perfect time to negotiate rates. Ways to increase your rural doctor salary includes selecting the highest paying states to work rurally in - Western Australia has some of the highest doctor salaries in the country.

Rural doctor lifestyle

In addition to earning great rates, working rurally can be a fun, unique experience, and a great opportunity to save some money and see parts of the country you may not have otherwise. You'll get to build really strong ties to the tight-knit communities, and take some time to slow down and enjoy the great outdoors.

Looking to gain experience and further your career as a rural doctor? Work with us to find the right role for you. We’re a preferred supplier to hospitals and clinics across Australia and have jobs for rural doctors at all career stages.

Discover the hottest locations and the highest rates for doctors in Australia in 2024 - download our brand new and free Job Market Report.

Locum doctors are earning up to $4000/day. How does your salary compare? Find out in our free 2024 Australian Doctor Job Market.
Download now
Jessica Allen
04 October 2023Article by Jessica AllenMedrecruit Editor