Survival analysis of Rural Clinical School of Western Australia graduates: The long-term work of building a long-term rural medical workforce

Surabhi Gupta, Hanh Ngo, Tessa Burkitt, Ian Puddey, Denese Playford

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Deficits in the rural medical workforce is an international issue. In Australia, The Rural Clinical School intervention is effective for initial recruitment of rural doctors. However, the extent of survival is not yet established. This paper summarises rural survival over a 10-year period. Methods: Rural Clinical School graduates of Western Australia were surveyed annually, 2006-2015, and post Graduate Years (PGY) 3-12 included. Survival was described as "tours of service", where a tour was either a period of ≥1 year, or a period of ≥2 weeks, working rurally. A tour ended with a rural work gap of ≥52 weeks. Considering each exit from urban as an event, semi-parametric repeated measures survival models were fitted. Results: Of 468 graduates, using the ≥2 weeks definition, 239 PGY3-12 graduates spent at least one tour rurally (average 61.1, CI 52.5-69.7 weeks), and a total length of 14,607 weeks. Based on the tour definition of ≥1 year, 120 graduates completed at least one tour (average 1.89, 1.69-2.10 years), and a total of 227 years' rural work. For both definitions, the number of tours increased from one to four by PGY10/11, giving 17,786 total weeks (342 years) across all PGYs for the ≥2 weeks tour definition, and 256 years total for ≥1 year. Significantly more graduates exited from urban work for the 2007-09 middle cohort compared with 2010-11 (HR 1.876, p = 0.022), but no significant difference between 2002 and 06 and 2010-11. Rural origin, age and gender were not statistically significant. Conclusions: PGY3-12 RCS graduates contributed substantially to the rural workforce: 51% did so by short rotations, while 26% contributed whole years of service. There was an apparent peak in entry and survival for the middle cohort and decline thereafter, likely attributable to lack of advanced/specialist vocational training. These data indicate a real commitment to rural practice by RCS graduates, and the need for rural vocational training as a key element of a successful rural survival strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number998
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Dec 2019


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