Rural Australian GP Shortage


Due to a decrease in funding for the number of international Medical Graduates Visa’s, the Australian Government has now boosted funding to rural medical schools. This program promises to be a long-term solution that will encourage Australian’s medical graduates to work in rural areas. However, Australia simply does not have enough GP’s to service the millions of people living in rural areas if the government restricts the number of international medical graduates that can work in Australia.

The number of medical graduates has improved and the number of full-time equivalent GP’s has increased by 1.6%. In Western Australia alone. Although, there was a shortage of 534 practitioners in 2015 and it is warned that the figure may double by 2025. The shortage may be due to an ageing workforce that’s being replaced by millennials who are opting for a better work-life balance and want to work in the best suburbs, despite the suffering rural shortages.

The demand for rural GP’s is largely met by international medical graduates who are required to practice in rural areas for up to ten years. More than 40% of GP’s in rural Australia are trained overseas. With the new decrease of funding for international medical graduates, this 40% will need to be replaced by Australian medical graduates.

The need for GP’s in rural Australia is due to many of factors, however, the most important being that the life expectancy for people in rural Australia is lower than it is for the general public living in the cities. Also, a higher risk of disease is likely to cause issues amongst the communities in rural areas of the country. However, due to the lack of work opportunities for spouses and schooling options for kids in rural areas, this, unfortunately, plays a huge contribution as to why many GP’s don’t want to vacate to these rural areas.

It has been suggested that reducing the funding for international medical graduates will cause the health system to collapse in rural parts of Australia. An area where healthcare is required the most will be at risk of not receiving enough attention, and this will go on to cause many problems in the foreseeable future.  

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