Objective: In-depth exploration of the perceptions, experiences and expectations of current long-term rural GPs and medical students intent on a rural career, regarding the current and future state of rural medicine. Design: Qualitative study using semistructured interviews. Setting: Rural and remote towns in Central and Southern Queensland and the School of Medicine, University of Queensland. Participants: Thirteen rural GPs with 10-40 years experience. Medical students (five second- and seven third-year), all of whom are members of a rural students' club and have an intention to pursue rural practice. Interviews were conducted between August and December 2004. Main outcome measures: Emergent themes relating to participant perceptions of the current and future state of rural medicine. Results: Despite large differences in generation and experience, medical students and rural GPs hold similar perceptions and expectations regarding the current and future state of rural practice. In particular, they cite a lack of professional support at the systems level. This includes specific support for: continuing medical education to obtain and retain the skills necessary for rural practice; dealing with the higher risks associated with procedural work; and consequences of medico-legal issues and workforce shortage issues such as long hours and availability of locums. Conclusions: Issues relating to recruitment and retention of the rural health workforce are identified by both cohorts as relating to professional support. Medical schools and institutional support systems need to join forces and work together to make rural practice a viable career in medicine.
- Medical students' perception
- Recruitment and retention of general practitioner
- Rural general practitioner
- Rural workforce issue