RMA 2019 conference - an insightful, educational & vibrant event
Despite the shortage of medical professionals in rural Australia - 2.5 doctors per 1000 people compared to 4.1 per 1000 in urban areas* and the obvious challenges that result from that; it is heartening to see just how many doctors are passionate by rural medicine.
Our team - Rob, Ross, Carole and Costa – attended the Rural Medicine Australia 2019 conference (RMA19) in October and talk to us below about their experience at the conference.
What did you find most inspiring at RMA19 ?
The theme driving this year’s annual conference and scientific forum of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) was Riding the Wave of Change.
The event was insightful, educational and buzzing (partially due to the weather being fantastic), and we all really enjoyed meeting new doctors and reconnecting with the doctors we work with on a regular basis.
Throughout the event, there were many sessions around keeping medicine current and moving forward with the changing landscape of medicine which many doctors found very valuable. The hot topic was ensuring community access to medical services in regional, rural and Indigenous communities despite the workforce shortage.
The crowd was diverse, ranging from medical students to experienced rural generalists and proceduralists, and all had a passion for ensuring the quality of generalist medicine in rural and remote areas.
What have you learnt from talking to Doctors at the event?
It is always quite humbling and fascinating to listen first hand to the challenges our Doctors face in rural medical practices. The setting, the communities they work with and the medical conditions they treat can be very different from what metro Doctors encounter in their daily practice.
One GP from Darwin educated the team on Melioidosis – a tropical disease found in northern Australia. The bacteria causing melioidosis is generally found in contaminated water and soil, and spreads to humans and animals through direct contact with the contaminated source. Communities in the NT and especially indigenous communities are largely affected by this disease and this is something this Darwin GP encounters quite frequently.
Another GP who recently relocated from the UK talked to us about the challenges of getting started in a rural practice and how complicated it can be to navigate through the visa and paperwork process on your own. As he embarked on his journey from Yorkshire, UK to the Gold Coast with his family, he realised on a stopover to Dubai that his visa to Australia wasn’t valid and had been cancelled. There had been communication breakdown issues with the Australian Immigration department which made it a very stressful move, especially with his wife and young family in tow. All was finally resolved and he is now looking forward to starting in his rural practice this month.
We also got to listen to many heart-wrenching stories from Doctors working in drought-affected regions and how climate changes are significantly affecting local communities.
What challenges are rural doctors facing and how can you assist them?
For many doctors, it’s all about finding the right work/life balance – juggling the needs to be at home, work, medical training, childcare and just really understanding what each individual doctor is looking for. Our mission is to do our best to get to know them and understand exactly what their priorities and obligations are, to find the perfect role for them.
Often, the challenge is around their lifestyle and finding the right permanent role for Doctors who want to work in rural communities whilst living in a metro area. In these cases, we need to look at the right trade off of travel, lifestyle and remuneration, whilst providing that perfect job opportunity for our Doctors to add incredible value to communities in rural and remote locations.
Another concern specific to proceduralists is to ensure they uphold their skills with the relevant work during a rural or remote locum, which is something we can assist with.
We also discussed the challenges of the low doctor to patient ratio and how the development of Telehealth helps provide patients in remote areas with access to healthcare; and how we help doctors find Telehealth Locum placements.
Our team was thrilled to be part of this event and proud to assist doctors in their search for the perfect rural or remote job opportunity.
The AMA 2019 Rural Health Issues Survey Report highlights that despite the issues in rural healthcare and the shortage of medical professionals, many doctors emphasised the positive aspects of rural practice and the rewarding career it offers.
“Country practice is a true calling, Go rural.”
If you’re a GP interested in rural and remote work, our team would love to have a confidential chat to discuss the current market and what might suit your career interests and lifestyle.
If you’re an overseas doctor looking to relocate to Australia, our in-house regulatory and migration team can also help you navigate through visa and paperwork requirements to start a rural job as quickly as possible.