Experiences of female general practice registrars: Are rural attachments encouraging them to stay?
Objective: To establish whether a six-month rural attachment influenced female GP registrars' future plans to work in a rural area. Secondary aims include establishing the adequacy of postgraduate training in preparing the registrars for the attachment, opinions regarding rural practice and suggestions to improve the attachment. Design: A six-page questionnaire was sent to eligible participants via state branches of General Practice Education Australia. Subjects: Female GP registrars who undertook a six-month rural attachment during 2002. Main outcome measure: Whether the six-month rural attachment influenced female registrars to practise in the country. Results: The rural attachment was a positive experience for 82% of participants. One-third were more likely, as a result of the attachment, to practise rurally in the future. In total, 14% were influenced against working rurally as a result of the attachment. Those who had previously resided or studied in a rural area were more likely to plan to work rurally. Level of vocational preparation was adequate for the majority with notable deficits in obstetrics and gynaecological procedural skills. Main negatives associated with the attachment included working long hours and social isolation. Recommendations for change focused on amending these issues along with improved child-care facilities and improved remuneration. Conclusion: The rural attachment is a predominantly positive experience for female registrars with the exception of professional and personal hardships associated with relocating to rural practice. The attachment dissuades only a small proportion of its female counterparts, which is promising considering the increasing role of female practitioners in the workforce. © 2005 The Authors Journal compilation © 2005 National Rural Health Alliance Inc.