New initiatives to encourage junior doctors to remain in rural areas will be part of a community connections project and are the result of a successful funding bid by Shepparton’s rural clinical school.
A training hub for junior doctors was introduced late last year, based at University of Melbourne’s Rural Clinical School, to encourage local health services to further support students pursuing postgraduate studies in rural and regional areas.
The hub has spent the past several months planning, and already helped secure three new funded registrar posts in the region, focused on psychiatry, as well as funding to provide supervisor training for clinicians.
But school head Julian Wright said a new push to link up health services to expand the number of years junior doctors worked in the region could bring great changes.
The university plans to expand its influence on medical training past the graduation stage and into the few years that follow.
In the proposal, new doctors would be guaranteed three years’ employment across health services in Shepparton, Echuca and Wangaratta, a significant leap from the one year currently on offer.
Professor Wright said there were plenty of available posts for second- and third-year doctors, but the idea to combine them into rotations across health services had never been followed before.
‘‘Most of these posts are already funded, so the money is already there for them, but what’s not happened in the past is that nobody has said, ‘well, you’re a junior doctor who wants to stay here, let’s link up some of those posts’,’’ Prof Wright said.
‘‘Our proposal is that junior doctors could complete an intern year at GV Health, stay there for another year, then have a third year of training at Echuca or Wangaratta, so they’d be guaranteed two years of employment in the region after their intern year.
‘‘It’s such a simple idea, and it would be a real pull for our region if we could offer that.’’
Prof Wright said junior doctors were looking for security of employment, and that an opportunity to move around less frequently would increase stability and quality of life.
He said there was also a need to look at the education sessions provided to junior doctors. He was pushing for the university to introduce micro-credentialing.
A further proposal, Prof Wright said, was to potentially extend medical student training locally, through increased government support.
The proposal would mean that medical students would complete four years of their study locally, instead of three, in a bid to attract doctors outside of the major cities.
‘‘They’d be signing up to do all four years of their training in the region, which would definitely show their commitment to a regional career,’’ Prof Wright said.
‘‘One of the hardest things for junior doctors is the uncertainty around where they’ll be each year; it is stressful, and for regional areas that pressure is even greater.
‘‘There are a lot of students who want a pathway into a regional area, paired with years of training and security, and the importance of these new initiatives to the region is massive.’’