Why work in rural healthcare in Australia
Working as a doctor in rural Australia offers so many benefits professionally and personally.
There are so many great reasons to work rurally and one of the most attractive is a lifestyle/cultural experience. You'll have the opportunity to see far-out and unique locations all throughout the country - meet different people, become involved in friendly communities, and get closer to nature. When you're not working you'll have the chance to relax and really get to know the locals and explore the surrounding areas. Feel valued every day at work and provide continuity of care to patients each day.
Evolve your skillset
By working as a rural doctor, you'll have the ability to work across a range of specialties. Sometimes known as a rural generalist, rural GP, or GP surgeon, locum or permanent work as a rural doctor can be very rewarding and a unique experience. Doctor Sneha Kirubakaran has worked rurally to her advantage. Based in Adelaide, she works as a locum rural GP in towns across SA and parts of QLD.
“They sent me to a small town called Jamestown, in rural South Australia. I absolutely loved rural medicine because in urban general practice most things could easily be sent to a specialist or to the hospital down the street. In rural places, you had to go above and beyond what urban GPs did in their practice. You had the opportunity to do the inpatient work, the opportunity to do the emergency work, as well as the good old general practice work.” - Doctor Sneha Kirubakaran
Become more resourceful
With fewer specialists working in rural communities, you'll gain confidence working in different areas. Where in an urban setting you may refer a patient elsewhere, in a rural community you will navigate the complexities of each patients' needs right from when they first come in, all the way through their journey. If you like variety in your role, rural work is for you - no two days are the same.
You'll have more freedom
Save money and have the freedom to step up and do more when you work in a rural location. Each day you'll be pushed more - be prepared to get thrown in the deep end as it's not uncommon for short orientations. You will, however, be exposed to a range of different mentors that are strong leaders in their fields.
"A good thing is that you get exposed to a lot of different mentors who are generally happy to help. You can gain expertise from a lot of different doctors with different approaches and outlooks. If you keep working with different people, you learn so much more. When you work in one place for a long time, there’s a bit of ‘group think’ – everyone assimilates to one way of working. You’ve got to go somewhere with a different way of working to learn." - Doctor Henry Kurtze
Rural doctors earn more
There's a higher demand for skilled practitioners in rural and remote locations, which is why medical centres and health systems pay more in these locations. Most locum placements include travel and accommodation too. With fewer things to spend money on outside of work, you'll have ample opportunity to save the extra money you're earning and switch off when you finish work.
As with any experience, there are always pros and cons, but working rurally is one not to be missed. You'll be pushed outside your comfort zone, gain valuable experience, have the ability to step up, earn and save money, and make some good friends along the way.