Maintaining a high quality and fully staffed rural health workforce is a challenging issue for Australian health services. This is a continuing problem given the high levels of urbanisation in Australia and the difficulties in attracting health professionals for work in rural areas. The needs of rural communities are not being met despite a range of Federal, State and professional body initiatives aimed at attracting and keeping health professionals in rural areas.
On 21 August 2014 the Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators sponsored a webinar forum on "Health Workforce: How can it be maintained in rural areas in the 21st century."
The presenters were Dr David Campbell Director, and Dr Robyn Mason Senior Medical Advisor at Skilled Medical. Dr Roger Boyd chaired the forum and Dr Kathleen Atkinson and Dr Bernard Street responded with their perspectives of rural medical workforce planning and development. The webinar was attended by approximately 50 people including medical administrators, clinical directors and fellowship candidates.
Dr David Campbell said that he hoped the forum will help focus stakeholders on finding new solutions to the shortage of health professionals in rural areas.
"There have been a many initiatives implemented over the past decade with mixed results. These require more evaluation and the most successful initiatives and programs should be expanded upon. Simply graduating more medical officers does not of itself address workforce distribution issues and rural medical staffing levels," Dr Campbell said. "In addition, new and innovative models of rural health service delivery should be developed and implemented. These may highlight further ideas and solutions which can help ensure rural communities receive the level of medical care they need."
Dr David Campbell and Dr Mason's Health Workforce Presentation – How Can it Be Maintained in Rural Areas in the 21st Century? [PDF]