Junior doctor boost for country hospitals

More country-trained doctors will be on the job from next year, with the number of junior doctors trained in country SA hospitals to more than double from January.

State Health and Wellbeing Minister Stephen Wade says the recruitment process for the 12 positions has been completed.

“Starting next year, five interns will be based at Whyalla Hospital and an additional two will be based in Mount Gambier, bringing the total number there to seven,” Mr Wade says.

“This will take the total number of interns completing their entire first year of on-the-job training from five to 12 in country SA – which is unprecedented.”

The initiative is part of the $20 million Rural Health Workforce Strategy, which aims to address the shortage of health practitioners in country areas.

The South Australian Government has worked with the Australian Government to secure the seven new intern positions, which are the result of a partnership between Country Health SA, the University of Adelaide and Flinders University.

“The increase in rural interns will support pathways for both rural generalists and GPs in areas where, traditionally, recruiting and retaining health practitioners has been a challenge,” Mr Wade says.

The Whyalla-based interns will complete a minimum of two rotations throughout the year at Whyalla Hospital, and three rotations at GP practices in Port Lincoln, Port Augusta and Whyalla.

In Mount Gambier, the majority of interns will complete their rotations at Mount Gambier Hospital and at a GP practice in Mount Gambier or the Riverland.

Flinders Rural Health SA’s Professor Jennene Greenhill says the new interns will be well supported.

“On the ground, support will be provided by our team of internationally-recognised rural clinical academics, local GPs and specialists,” says Flinders University’s Professor Greenhill.

After graduating from medicine at university, doctors in their first year of training are required to complete a range of different clinical rotations more than 12 months in order to progress to the next stage of their career.

The new rural immersion intern training program will greatly benefit the northern and Eyre regions of SA, notably regional communities in Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Lincoln, says Dr Lawrie McArthur, the Director of Clinical Training at Whyalla Hospital and Health Service.

“This provides a much-needed continuum of rural doctor training between undergraduate and specialty training,” he says.

The partnership and funding secures the additional intern positions for 2019 and 2020.

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