12 January, 2022
Practitioners get uni debt wiped if working rural
Doctors and nurse practitioners now have the chance to have their university debt wiped by the federal government, if they choose to work in a regional, rural, or remote community.
This could mean up to $100,000 back to some students. The new scheme is aimed at attracting, and keeping, more health professionals in isolated areas.
However, there are a few conditions.
If the practitioners are in a remote
community, they must work for at least
24 hours a week, for a period equivalent
to half the length of their degree.
Practitioners in rural and regional
areas will need to work the same number
of hours over a period as long as their
Alongside this new incentive, GP
practices in towns throughout regional,
rural, and remote Australia, will have
more options and a larger pool of doctors
to choose from, following changes
announced by the federal government in recent weeks.
From January 1, 2022, there will be
automatic access to the distribution priority
area (DPA) classification for
regional and larger rural towns, to make
it easier for areas to recruit more doctors.
The DPA classification identifies locations
in Australia with a shortage of doctors.
Currently, only rural and remote
communities receive automatic DPA status.
Other locations are assessed annually
to see whether the health services for
the population meet a service benchmark.
If access is under the benchmark, a
town is classified as a DPA, and clinics
in that area can employ doctors subject
to a moratorium, such as those who have
Students who have accepted a commonwealth
supported place in an
Australian medical course in return for a
commitment to work in a regional, rural,
and remote area at the end of their studies
must also work in a DPA.
“Short term, this means that practices
can begin reaching out to overseas doctors
who want to move to the regions and
practise there,” said federal regional
health minister, Dr David Gillespie.
“I know that regional and rural practices will be working hard to take full advantage of this significant change. It will help ensure rural and regional areas have a choice of more doctors to work in their local communities, leading to increased access to GP and primary care services for many thousands of Australians in regional and rural communities.”