Why Western NSW needs Rural GPs

By , Melinda McCarthy published on 14/03/2023 Rural Generalism,

Rural and remote areas of Australia have long suffered from a lack of access to quality healthcare services. This is especially true in some parts of Western New South Wales, where rural generalists are needed to provide vital medical services to the local population.

Ochre Recruitment and Ochre Health are proud to be working exclusively with Western NSW LHD on exciting locum & fixed term opportunities for experienced and dedicated rural generalists across five iconic rural towns in the North West Region of NSW. For close to two decades we have been instrumental in helping to alleviate staff shortages in rural and remote regions by bringing more doctors to rural-based practices and hospitals. 

“Having been founded in Bourke in 2002, supporting doctors to improve the health of rural and remote communities has always been at the core of the Ochre Health DNA.” Ochre Health CEO Dermot Roche

Why are Rural Generalist Doctors so integral to the health of rural communities?

Rural Generalists or GP VMOs provide a very high level of patient care and support the local medical community. They are often the only medical professionals available in remote locations, so they must be able to diagnose and treat various medical conditions. Working in the ED, they are skilled in emergency medicine, trauma care, surgery, obstetrics, anaesthesia and are well supported by local nursing staff.

Rural Generalists also work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as nurses and allied health practitioners, to provide comprehensive patient care. They can also become involved in community projects that improve health outcomes for locals, such as preventative health programs or initiatives designed to reduce chronic disease rates among vulnerable populations.

GPs in rural practice, are highly regarded figures of the community and work closely with local people to promote their health and well-being. They spend more time with patients and, as a result, get to know them on a more personal level. So, rather than trying to fill quotas and adhere to "15-minute medicine", (as in metropolitan-based clinics), rural GPs can focus on treating the individual — not just the symptoms. Local doctors working permanently or on a longer-term fixed-term contract, provide continuity of care for patients over time, which helps build trust between doctor and patient and leads to better outcomes for everyone involved.

"In my opinion, the main benefit of being a rural generalist is really interesting medicine. You go on a health journey with your patients. You get to know them – their story, background, and medical history, making general practice more effective and rewarding. This connection is really lovely and not something easily achieved in metropolitan practice." Dr Karen O'Brien

What are the benefits of working as a GP VMO in Western NSW?

Rural medicine is an exciting and stimulating career choice where no two days are the same. As we have mentioned, Rural generalists require a broader scope of practice to tackle the unique presentations they encounter. We asked our doctors what it is they loved most about rural practice in Western NSW and what they see as the top benefits.

  • Flexible FIFO dates;
  • Maintain skills in the ED as well as ambulatory care, home, hospital, retrieval, and long-term residential care;
  • Function with a high degree of autonomy;
  • Provide clinical leadership and affect positive change;
  • Earn high locum rates;
  • The enriching cultural experiences: it's a chance to really 'see' Australia without the urban lens;
  • Develop a new understanding and appreciation of the uniqueness of the Indigenous communities;
  • Enjoy a less frantic pace.

"I have worked as a GP VMO in all of the Western NSW towns and the experience has been very rewarding, both professionally and personally. My family and I loved being part of the local communities and we greatly enjoyed the rural lifestyle." Dr Hamish Meldrum, Co-founder and co-director Ochre Health Group

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a rural generalist? A general practitioner who has a broad skill set, applicable to such fields as anaesthesia, obstetrics, surgery, advanced emergency medicine, as well as Indigenous health, aged care, palliative care, addiction medicine and remote medicine.
  • How can I become a rural generalist? All generalists will have attained their FRACGP or FACRRM (Fellowship of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine for GPs) Following a Generalist Pathway significantly broadens your prospects and career options as a Rural GP, providing foundation training and can fast-tracking a GPs development in becoming a rural generalist.
  • Is Western NSW the only place I can work as a Rural GP? No. Working as a rural general practitioner opens the doors to a diversity of environments. You may want to experience life as an island doctor on Flinders or King Island, practice rural medicine right in the heart of Australia, explore New Zealand’s Wairoa region, or take a deep dive into the untamed natural wilderness that is the West Coast of NZ.  If you are a skilled rural doctor who can work across a range of comprehensive primary care and other care areas, you can essentially work anywhere and everywhere. 
  • What qualifications do I need to work as a rural generalist in Western NSW and beyond? You will be registered with AHPRA and have your FRACGP or FACRRM in addition to your current emergency certification (ALS2 or equivalent) and recent emergency experience. 

If you are a GP looking for an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people living in Western NSW, our experienced Rural Generalist & Hospital Team can help. They manage the paperwork, negotiate the best rates, book your travel + accommodation, and offer you a premium service. 

We have locum and permanent positions throughout the iconic towns of Bourke, Lightning Ridge, Brewarrina, Coonamble, Cowra, Collarenabri and Walgett that offer great professional and personal rewards.

Contact Taryn Burland on 0457 004 414 or email [email protected]

If you'd prefer to look at key rural employment opportunities in other Australian states, please contact Phil Dixon on 0424 550 378.

For rural GP roles in New Zealand, get in touch with Angelique Rahme on +64 4 894 3320 or 022 463 7328

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