It’s widely acknowledged – and evidence based – that experiencing rural practice during medical school is a significant stimulant to considering a career in rural practice. Many of us who are now rural GPs were inspired by our own electives, special study modules and GP placements in rural areas. We know this is an essential component to recruitment & retention to rural practice.
And yet we have a problem in Scotland. Undergraduates are telling us they experience difficulty in accessing rural placements, and that’s before they need to consider the increased costs that can be associated with accommodation and travel for rural placements. Some members of the RGPAS Committee are fielding over 100 emails a year, from students who are asking for elective students – on top of the more formal student GP placements during the academic year.
For some time, we have been highlighting the potential benefits of having a centralised, informed ‘bureau’ which could act as an effective match-making service to place students in surgeries who have capacity at a specific time of year.
Despite this, progress has been slow. We believe that the funding required would be relatively minimal, particularly in comparison to the longer term gains that could be realised further down the line, with inspired students returning to rural training and practice once they are more qualified.
RGPAS is ready to assist with the setup of such a service, including guiding the setup process and publicising any resulting service. Who knows, it might even lead to something even more comprehensive and exciting, like the John Flynn Programme offered by ACRRM in Australia.
Students… we understand your frustrations of having to email around individual rural GPs, but we hope this can be rectified in the very near future.
Hull & York Medical School student Catherine Lawrence attended the RGPAS16 conference, and as part of her scholarship, submitted the following perspective of her elective on the Isle of Tiree…