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A Study on the Reasons for Shortage of Rural Medicine Professionals in New Zealand

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By : Malcolm Reeves    29 or more times read
Submitted 2018-10-08 06:06:20
According to a study by the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, it is found that 41 per cent of the professionals in locum medical jobs are expected to retire from the services by 2025!

The biggest single issue facing remote hospitals and rural GP practices in New Zealand is the shortage of medical professionals, which has been the case for many years. There are several contributing factors to this issue, which includes - funding shortfalls, decreasing rural populations and the closing of some facilities.

Yes, filling up New Zealand’s locum medical jobs is a constant challenge!

A cross-sectional study on the Rural Hospital Doctor’s Workforce in New Zealand [external link] was conducted by Lawrenson R, Nixon G, Steed R, published 2011 in Rural and Remote Health. Moreover, a follow-up study [external link] was also conducted in May 2016 by Lawrenson R, Reid J, Nixon G, and Laurenson A, and published in the New Zealand Medical Journal.

Obviously, the 2009 survey found that just over a third of rural medical jobs in New Zealand were found to be vacant or temporarily filled by locum placements and most hospital managers revealed that they struggled to source suitably qualified staff. While the workforce situation was found to be greatly improved in the 2016 survey, approximately 25% of hospital managers still indicated a critical shortage.

Despite an increase of availability in the overall number of locum doctor jobs in New Zealand, the actual number of availability of doctors remained similar in both surveys.

Both studies revealed that rural New Zealand is highly dependent on an overseas-trained workforce, and retention of this international workforce depends on the appropriate organisational support.

The authors were delighted to mention that, in 2016 many rural hospital medicine doctors were

- New Zealand graduates, and with an increasing proportion of women, as it offers a female-friendly work environment that allows opportunities for part-time work, or for breaks from practice for family reasons

- And the availability of a younger, more diverse and New Zealand-trained workforce who find the rural positions attractive were available to replace older doctors

Luke Baddington, Ochre Recruitment’s New Zealand Team Leader, mentions that the key factor which is not captured in the data is the recurring pattern of extreme staffing shortages in the winter months. As, the New Zealand doctors or locums often temporarily relocate to work in Australia’s warmer climates. Unfortunately, their time out of the location, chances with an increased patient demand for services.

Luke says, “winters have become increasingly difficult over the past few years, the. The demand for quality medical professionals is high and it is no longer just rural communities who are struggling.” Though a few locations, may partially cover some of this demand, the fact remains that as of January 2018, nearly fifty small towns with populations less than 1,500, were without a community GP.

Even though collectively resources are scarce across the sector, Ochre Recruitment New Zealand continues to offer locum medical jobs, where they are most needed with the right doctor in the right job at the right place. However, Luke says many rural locations still yearn for a permanent GP or long-term medical professional who can provide a continuity of care and become an integral part of the community they serve.

Ochre Recruitment aims to support both clients and doctors over winter and have already begun planning strategies for the tricky months ahead. Maybe you are thinking about a change of scene, or know a colleague or friend looking for adventure and the chance to make a difference in a rural community. If so, then now is the perfect time to talk to Ochre Recruitment about a rural placement, as well as the travel, accommodation and competitive session rates on offer.
Author Resource:- The author works as a doctor in rural New Zealand and offers various tips on medical jobs New Zealand in his blog. Visit for more details.
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