Is Western Australia’s rural surgical workforce going to sustain the future? A quantitative and qualitative analysis

Sharanyaa Shanmugakumar, Denese Playford, Tessa Burkitt, Marc Tennant, Tom Bowles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective. Despite public interest in the rural workforce, there are few published data on the geographical distribution of Australia's rural surgeons, their practice skill set, career stage or work-life balance (on-call burden). Similarly, there has not been a peer-reviewed skills audit of rural training opportunities for surgical trainees. The present study undertook this baseline assessment for Western Australia (WA), which has some of the most remote practice areas in Australia. Methods. Hospital staff from all WA Country Health Service hospitals with surgical service (20 of 89 rural health services) were contacted by telephone. A total of 18 of 20 provided complete data. The study questionnaire explored hospital and practice locations of practicing rural surgeons, on-call rosters, career stage, practice skill set and the availability of surgical training positions. Data were tabulated in excel and geographic information system geocoded. Descriptive statistics were calculated in Excel. Results. Of the seven health regions for rural Western Australia, two (28.6%) were served by resident surgeons at a ratio consistent with Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) guidelines. General surgery was offered in 16 (89%) hospitals. In total, 16 (89%) hospitals were served by fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) surgical services. Two hospitals with resident surgeons did not use FIFO services, but all hospitals without resident surgeons were served by FIFO surgical specialists. The majority of resident surgeons (62.5%) and FIFO surgeons (43.2%) were perceived to be mid-career by hospital staff members. Three hospitals (16.7%) offered all eight of the identified surgical skill sets, but 16 (89%) offered general surgery. Conclusions. Relatively few resident rural surgeons are servicing large areas of WA, assisted by the widespread provision of FIFO surgical services. The present audit demonstrates strength in general surgical skills throughout regional WA, and augers well for the training of general surgeons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-81
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Health Review
Volume41
Issue number1
Early online date2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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Diptera
Western Australia
Hospital Surgery Department
Geographic Mapping
Rural Health Services
Surgeons
Rural Health
Geographic Information Systems
Telephone
Health Services
Guidelines

Cite this

@article{92d7f5fdb0fb4f9babd7880630be14b2,
title = "Is Western Australia’s rural surgical workforce going to sustain the future? A quantitative and qualitative analysis",
abstract = "Objective. Despite public interest in the rural workforce, there are few published data on the geographical distribution of Australia's rural surgeons, their practice skill set, career stage or work-life balance (on-call burden). Similarly, there has not been a peer-reviewed skills audit of rural training opportunities for surgical trainees. The present study undertook this baseline assessment for Western Australia (WA), which has some of the most remote practice areas in Australia. Methods. Hospital staff from all WA Country Health Service hospitals with surgical service (20 of 89 rural health services) were contacted by telephone. A total of 18 of 20 provided complete data. The study questionnaire explored hospital and practice locations of practicing rural surgeons, on-call rosters, career stage, practice skill set and the availability of surgical training positions. Data were tabulated in excel and geographic information system geocoded. Descriptive statistics were calculated in Excel. Results. Of the seven health regions for rural Western Australia, two (28.6{\%}) were served by resident surgeons at a ratio consistent with Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) guidelines. General surgery was offered in 16 (89{\%}) hospitals. In total, 16 (89{\%}) hospitals were served by fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) surgical services. Two hospitals with resident surgeons did not use FIFO services, but all hospitals without resident surgeons were served by FIFO surgical specialists. The majority of resident surgeons (62.5{\%}) and FIFO surgeons (43.2{\%}) were perceived to be mid-career by hospital staff members. Three hospitals (16.7{\%}) offered all eight of the identified surgical skill sets, but 16 (89{\%}) offered general surgery. Conclusions. Relatively few resident rural surgeons are servicing large areas of WA, assisted by the widespread provision of FIFO surgical services. The present audit demonstrates strength in general surgical skills throughout regional WA, and augers well for the training of general surgeons.",
author = "Sharanyaa Shanmugakumar and Denese Playford and Tessa Burkitt and Marc Tennant and Tom Bowles",
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Is Western Australia’s rural surgical workforce going to sustain the future? A quantitative and qualitative analysis. / Shanmugakumar, Sharanyaa; Playford, Denese; Burkitt, Tessa; Tennant, Marc; Bowles, Tom.

In: Australian Health Review, Vol. 41, No. 1, 2017, p. 75-81.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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N2 - Objective. Despite public interest in the rural workforce, there are few published data on the geographical distribution of Australia's rural surgeons, their practice skill set, career stage or work-life balance (on-call burden). Similarly, there has not been a peer-reviewed skills audit of rural training opportunities for surgical trainees. The present study undertook this baseline assessment for Western Australia (WA), which has some of the most remote practice areas in Australia. Methods. Hospital staff from all WA Country Health Service hospitals with surgical service (20 of 89 rural health services) were contacted by telephone. A total of 18 of 20 provided complete data. The study questionnaire explored hospital and practice locations of practicing rural surgeons, on-call rosters, career stage, practice skill set and the availability of surgical training positions. Data were tabulated in excel and geographic information system geocoded. Descriptive statistics were calculated in Excel. Results. Of the seven health regions for rural Western Australia, two (28.6%) were served by resident surgeons at a ratio consistent with Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) guidelines. General surgery was offered in 16 (89%) hospitals. In total, 16 (89%) hospitals were served by fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) surgical services. Two hospitals with resident surgeons did not use FIFO services, but all hospitals without resident surgeons were served by FIFO surgical specialists. The majority of resident surgeons (62.5%) and FIFO surgeons (43.2%) were perceived to be mid-career by hospital staff members. Three hospitals (16.7%) offered all eight of the identified surgical skill sets, but 16 (89%) offered general surgery. Conclusions. Relatively few resident rural surgeons are servicing large areas of WA, assisted by the widespread provision of FIFO surgical services. The present audit demonstrates strength in general surgical skills throughout regional WA, and augers well for the training of general surgeons.

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