Upper Lachlan Shire supports 2020 Bush Bursary Program

Local and federal governments have announced funding for medical training in the bush to encourage more nurses and doctors to work in regional Australia.

A nurse places a bandage on the injection site of a child. Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A nurse places a bandage on the injection site of a child. Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Upper Lachlan Shire councillor Richard Opie, whose wife is a doctor at Crookwell District Hospital, said it was a hard job to get doctors and nurses into rural and regional areas.

The council agreed at its ordinary meeting on February 20 to provide $3000 to support the NSW Rural Doctor's Network (RDN) Bush Bursary Program again in 2020.

The news came a week after the federal government announced it would allocate an additional 100 rural generalist doctor training places to the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine.

"In the past three years, while there's been a growth in practitioners in the country, they're now calling for doctors back in the city and taking the peddle off pushing them into the country," Cr Opie said.

"The hospital is one of the biggest employers in the shire but we're struggling with staff."

The RDN's Bush Bursary Program gives medical students the chance to spend two weeks on a rural placement in country NSW during their university holidays.

In January, second-year Australian Catholic University nursing student, Kristina Zillhardt, took part in a two-week placement in Crookwell under the program.

She gained experience in the town's emergency, general nursing, aged care, mental health and rehabilitation departments and services.

"Having dealt with the RDN, they do an incredible job trying to get doctors and nurses to the shire," Cr Opie said.

"By attracting these young people here, getting them into a country hospital and letting them be part of a team, we're starting to get a few of them talking about wanting to be in the country."

Likewise, the Rural Doctors Association of Australia welcomed the federal government's announcement of more training places at the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine.

"This is a great step forward for rural generalist doctor training in Australia," RDAA president Dr John Hall said.

"This will expand ACRRM's commonwealth funded training places to 250 in 2021 - a substantial increase from the 150 places that it has currently.

"ACRRM's training program has proved popular for junior doctors wishing to embark on a career in rural generalist medicine."

Minister for regional health Mark Coulton said research shows that doctors who train in the bush are more likely to stay and work in the bush at the completion of their training.

"I'm focused on addressing the maldistribution of doctors in the bush, and this announcement further demonstrates the Australian Government's commitment to supporting more regional doctor training to better care for our regional, rural and remote communities," minister Coulton said.

"Expanding the training will ensure there is pipeline of rural generalists coming through to support a viable and sustainable workforce.

"Regional, rural and remote Australians deserve the same access to high quality health services as those who live in our capital cities."