How do rural placements affect urban-based Australian junior doctors' perceptions of working in a rural area?

Brodribb, Wendy, Zadoroznyj, Maria and Martin, Bill (2016) How do rural placements affect urban-based Australian junior doctors' perceptions of working in a rural area?. Australian Health Review, 40 6: 655-660. doi:10.1071/AH15127


Author Brodribb, Wendy
Zadoroznyj, Maria
Martin, Bill
Title How do rural placements affect urban-based Australian junior doctors' perceptions of working in a rural area?
Journal name Australian Health Review   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0156-5788
1449-8944
Publication date 2016-01-01
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1071/AH15127
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 40
Issue 6
Start page 655
End page 660
Total pages 6
Place of publication Clayton, VIC Australia
Publisher CSIRO Publishing
Language eng
Abstract Objectives The aim of the present study was to provide qualitative insights from urban-based junior doctors (graduation to completion of speciality training) of the effect of rural placements and rotations on career aspirations for work in non-metropolitan practices. Methods A qualitative study was performed of junior doctors based in Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne. Individual face-to-face or telephone semistructured interviews were held between August and October 2014. Thematic analysis focusing on participants' experience of placements and subsequent attitudes to rural practice was undertaken. Results Most participants undertook rural placements in the first 2 years after graduation. Although experiences varied, positive perceptions of placements were consistently linked with the degree of supervision and professional support provided. These experiences were linked to attitudes about working outside metropolitan areas. Participants expressed concerns about being 'forced' to work in non-metropolitan hospitals in their first postgraduate year; many received little warning of the location or clinical expectations of the placement, causing anxiety and concern. Conclusions Adequate professional support and supervision in rural placements is essential to encourage junior doctors' interests in rural medicine. Having a degree of choice about placements and a positive and supported learning experience increases the likelihood of a positive experience. Doctors open to working outside a metropolitan area should be preferentially allocated an intern position in a non-metropolitan hospital and rotated to more rural locations. What is known about the topic? The maldistribution of the Australian medical workforce has led to the introduction of several initiatives to provide regional and rural experiences for medical students and junior doctors. Although there have been studies outlining the effects of rural background and rural exposure on rural career aspirations, little research has focused on what hinders urban-trained junior doctors from pursuing a rural career. What does this paper add? Exposure to medical practice in regional or rural areas modified and changed the longer-term career aspirations of some junior doctors. Positive experiences increased the openness to and the likelihood of regional or rural practice. However, junior doctors were unlikely to aspire to non-metropolitan practice if they felt they had little control over and were unprepared for a rural placement, had a negative experience or were poorly supported by other clinicians or health services. What are the implications for practitioners? Changes to the process of allocating junior doctors to rural placements so that the doctors felt they had some choice, and ensuring these placements are well supervised and supported, would have a positive impact on junior doctors' attitudes to non-metropolitan practice.
Formatted abstract
Objectives The aim of the present study was to provide qualitative insights from urban-based junior doctors (graduation to completion of speciality training) of the effect of rural placements and rotations on career aspirations for work in non-metropolitan practices.

Methods A qualitative study was performed of junior doctors based in Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne. Individual face-to-face or telephone semistructured interviews were held between August and October 2014. Thematic analysis focusing on participants’ experience of placements and subsequent attitudes to rural practice was undertaken.

Results Most participants undertook rural placements in the first 2 years after graduation. Although experiences varied, positive perceptions of placements were consistently linked with the degree of supervision and professional support provided. These experiences were linked to attitudes about working outside metropolitan areas. Participants expressed concerns about being ‘forced’ to work in non-metropolitan hospitals in their first postgraduate year; many received little warning of the location or clinical expectations of the placement, causing anxiety and concern.

Conclusions Adequate professional support and supervision in rural placements is essential to encourage junior doctors’ interests in rural medicine. Having a degree of choice about placements and a positive and supported learning experience increases the likelihood of a positive experience. Doctors open to working outside a metropolitan area should be preferentially allocated an intern position in a non-metropolitan hospital and rotated to more rural locations.

What is known about the topic? The maldistribution of the Australian medical workforce has led to the introduction of several initiatives to provide regional and rural experiences for medical students and junior doctors. Although there have been studies outlining the effects of rural background and rural exposure on rural career aspirations, little research has focused on what hinders urban-trained junior doctors from pursuing a rural career.

What does this paper add? Exposure to medical practice in regional or rural areas modified and changed the longer-term career aspirations of some junior doctors. Positive experiences increased the openness to and the likelihood of regional or rural practice. However, junior doctors were unlikely to aspire to non-metropolitan practice if they felt they had little control over and were unprepared for a rural placement, had a negative experience or were poorly supported by other clinicians or health services.

What are the implications for practitioners? Changes to the process of allocating junior doctors to rural placements so that the doctors felt they had some choice, and ensuring these placements are well supervised and supported, would have a positive impact on junior doctors’ attitudes to non-metropolitan practice.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

 
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