Rural and remote communities in Australia, like in Western Victoria, are facing a shortage of qualified healthcare providers and facilities. While rural areas tend to have less access to resources, healthcare providers who move to these regions can expect some unique and rewarding benefits that set you apart from the typical urban practitioners. Here's just a few of those advantages you can look forward to as a healthcare provider in a rural community.
1. Greater autonomy and responsibility. As a healthcare provider in a rural community, your medical services aren't enforced by bureaucratic regulations and quotas that demand a certain number of patients every day. This means you can afford to devote more time and attention, creating a strong and satisfying relationship between provider and patient. You'll also probably work with a small, multidisciplinary team that offers a more personal and friendly work environment.
2. Unique opportunities and experiences. By being one of a few - if not the only - healthcare providers in a rural area means that you aren't limited to one type of medical expertise. By being a 'jack-of-all-trades', you'll get to see a variety of conditions that might be sent to a specialist if care took place in an urban community. And by practicing a wider array of medical services, you'll have many more opportunities to challenge you personally and professionally in ways that you couldn't do in a big city. And providing holistic and varied medical care also earns you a hero badge in the eyes of many of your patients.
3. Become an important part of a community. Establishing personal relationships with patients in a small community is almost a given. You'll see them out shopping, school events, and other social functions where you're able to talk to them not at patients, but as friends. This is especially important when it comes to palliative care, where the an established relationships create a more comfortable environment for patient and their family. Practicing medicine as the only healthcare worker also impacts the medical treatment you provide - for example, if you treat the whole family, you're more likely to be aware of the family's medical history. You might also get to treat the same patients from birth all the way through adulthood. Just get used to patients bringing you gifts and homemade goodies on holidays, or just because they appreciate your services.
4. Financial incentives & allowances. Given the shortage of physicians in rural and remote communities, the Australian government offers financial benefits to general practitioners and other healthcare workers who move to rural and remote areas. Not only is the cost of living lower, but now you'll easily be able to pay for that extra holiday, add an addition to your home, or expand your business practice.
5. Better quality of life. Although rural healthcare workers earn a higher salary than those who living in urban areas, the lower cost of living generally offsets this difference. Benefits of the rural community package include less traffic, shorter commute times, cleaner air, access to nature, less crime, bigger houses, and of course those strong community bonds. Less stress and better quality of life for you means better quality of care for your patients, which helps to strengthen your important role as a caretaker in a community.
Interested in becoming a rural health care provider? Here's a google map of different rural health centers in Victoria.