NSW new 21 doctors begin work in regional hospitals under innovative initiative, with applications open for more

​The first 21 doctors have begun their training in regional hospitals, under the NSW Government’s Rural Generalist Single Employer Pathway Program, designed to see more doctors work, live and train in regional NSW. 

The single employer model provides a coordinated pathway that makes it easier and more attractive for junior doctors to train as rural generalists.

The program provides secure employment over the training period and ensures rural generalist trainees are being paid the same amount as their hospital-trained counterparts.

The model is based on an innovative program trialled in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District. 

And now, applications will open in mid-July for the next group of doctors to join the program.

The next intake of rural generalist trainees will start their training in rural and regional communities in early 2025.

The specific training these doctors receive ensures GPs have the right mix of skills to practice in rural settings, with specialised training in primary care and emergency medicine as well as obstetrics, anaesthetics or mental health services.

This important initiative will not only help us strengthen the regional health workforce, but also give Rural Generalist trainees greater security to make a life for themselves in our wonderful rural and regional communities. 

Tamworth-based doctor Sarah Woodford is one of the first to take part in the expanded training pathway and said she is enjoying the challenges and rewards of rural generalism, while working at the Tamworth Hospital emergency department and local medical centre Tallowwood Health.

Dr Woodford is one of 21 trainees currently working in regional and rural parts of the Hunter New England, Illawarra Shoalhaven, Mid North Coast, Murrumbidgee, Northern NSW, Southern NSW and Western NSW Local Health Districts as part of the first group recruited to the program.

Recruitment for the 2025 Clinical Year opens on 16 July 2024. To apply visit: www.health.nsw.gov.au/RGSEP​​​

This initiative is just part of a range of measures designed to address health workforce shortages in regional NSW, including: 

  • doubling rural health incentives;
  • implementing the study subsidies scheme; 
  • rolling out key worker accommodation; and
  • delivering an extra 500 regional paramedics.

​Quotes attributable to Minister for Regional Health Ryan Park: 

“This innovative program is helping to increase the number of rural generalists across NSW, growing the GP workforce while at the same time improving access to specialist medical practitioners for regional, rural and remote communities.

“They are an essential part of our rural, regional, and remote communities as they share their time and skills across our regional emergency departments and their general practices. 

“Our first group of trainees is already working in communities across regional NSW, and I’m pleased to announce we are opening recruitment for the next group of trainees on 16 July, with these doctors set to start work in our regions early in 2025.”

Quotes attributable to Dr Sarah Woodford: 

“It’s a great privilege to be a doctor in a rural setting. You can really develop a relationship with your patients which is very special.

“The program also keeps you connected with the hospital which is great, because it provides us with a way to continue to develop those skills while at the same time learning how to be a GP.

“If you think about the best ways you can help people as a health professional, being a rural general practitioner is one of those roles where you can fully and completely serve your community.” ​

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