Calls to get high schoolers interested in rural GP

2 minute read

ACRRM has doubled down on a pre-budget push for a scheme aimed at getting high school students interested in rural medicine.

With federal budget day T-minus six weeks away, the rural GP college is making a final push for funding to go toward growing the next generation of rural generalists.

Originally released as part of its pre-budget submission in February, ACRRM has proposed an awareness program to introduce rural and remote secondary school students to rural medicine, as well as a scholarship scheme to support rural and remote students doing medicine.

“Currently, there is no continuity of programs to inform and provide ongoing support to rural secondary school students through their pre-tertiary journey,” ACRRM president Dr Dan Halliday said.

The basic principle behind the idea is that doctors who come from a rural background are more likely to pursue rural practice, especially if they are supported to train and study in a rural environment.

The high school awareness program would cost an estimated $7.5 million over three years.

“Many rural students don’t have medical role models in their circles, and they either are not aware of rural generalist medicine as a career path, or they believe it is unattainable within their particular circumstances,” Dr Halliday said.

“We need to grow awareness of the benefits of a career in rural generalism, and to be effective at doing that we need to fund a program that builds strong local relationships to support students through their high school years, into university, and beyond.”

For the scholarship component, the college is asking for $17.25 million to fund 200 scholarships worth $25,000 over three years. The program would be open to rural, remote and First Nations medical students.

“We believe that financially supporting these students will encourage them to chase their dreams to serve the healthcare needs of rural, remote and First Nations communities and support them with the additional costs they face moving from their community to a tertiary institution,” said Dr Halliday.

ACRRM had three other main budget asks: another 150 training places, rural generalist specific item numbers and boost funding for rural generalist and GP supervisors.

The federal budget will be handed down on Tuesday 14 May.

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