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Rural recruitment and training promotes rural practice by GPs, but is it enough to retain them?

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Challenges to keeping general practitioners in the bush remain

The findings reported by McGrail and colleagues in this issue of the MJA support the effectiveness of Australian government incentives for recruiting and training general practitioners in rural areas as a strategy for reducing rural medical workforce shortages.1 The study found that rural origin of trainees and rural vocational training of GPs were each strongly associated with their practising in rural areas in the early years after completing vocational training. However, their findings also suggest that these effects had started to diminish by 4 years post-training.1 This finding is consistent with another recent Australian study, which found that the effects of rural recruiting and training diminished over time.2

As evidence emerged in the early 1990s that a rural background and a positive rural training experience promoted the subsequent uptake of rural practice by trainees, the Australian government introduced several initiatives for recruiting and training medical students in rural areas. The Rural Undergraduate Support and Coordination Program (RUSC) was in 1993 among the first of these initiatives, followed by the Rural Clinical School (RCS) and the Rural Clinical Training and Support Program (RCTS). These initiatives required that 25% of the intake…