Attitudes of advanced Australian medical oncology trainees to rural practice
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Aim: To identify the views of medical oncology trainees regarding rural training posts and rural practice overall, and to identify factors that may improve recruitment. Methods: A questionnaire was posted to all advanced oncology trainees in Australia in June 2006. The trainees were questioned on the perceived advantages and disadvantages of rural practice, their experience during previous rural rotations and potential incentives and barriers in recruiting trainees and specialist oncologists to regional and rural centers. Results: There was a 60% response rate. Of all participants 58% had considered rural practice. Those with a rural family background were more likely to have considered rural practice. Attitudes based on responses to listed disadvantages and advantages of rural practice were heterogenous. Lifestyle factors seemed to be of particular importance. Although there were perceived deficiencies in opportunities for professional education in rural oncology rotations, 94% felt their rotation had been a positive experience overall and 62% were more likely to consider a rural career following their rural rotation. Improving locum cover for leave was seen as a potential incentive by 97% trainees. Conclusion: Despite positive attitudes towards rural practice, many barriers exist preventing recruitment of medical oncology trainees to rural areas, in particular lifestyle factors that are difficult to modify. Factors that can be improved include improving access to clinical trials, enabling access to locum cover. Educational opportunities for current rural trainees need to be improved. Further study into potential incentives to enhance rural recruitment is required.
Francis, H.M., Clarke, K.A., Steer, C.B., Francis, J.J., and Underhill, C.R. (2008). Attitudes of advanced Australian medical oncology trainees to rural practice. Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology, 4(1), pp. 34-41.