The rural medical generalist workforce: The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners’ 2014 workforce survey resultsDeanne L. Wong 1 , Garry Nixon 2
1 The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, Wellington, New Zealand
2 Dunstan Hospital, Clyde, and University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
Correspondence to: Deanne L. Wong, PO Box 10-440, Wellington 6143, New Zealand. Email: Deanne.Wong@rnzcgp.org.nz
Journal of Primary Health Care 8(3) 196-203 https://doi.org/10.1071/HC15055
Published: 7 September 2016
This is an open access article licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
INTRODUCTION: Previous surveys have revealed a New Zealand rural medical generalist workforce that is mainly male, older and dependent on international medical graduates (IMGs).
AIMS: To provide a snapshot of the New Zealand rural medical generalist workforce in 2014 and to make comparisons with the urban medical generalist workforce. To assess future workforce losses and find ways to address them.
METHODS: In March/April 2014, a survey of members of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners used the SurveyMonkey tool. A comparative analysis was undertaken of self-identified rural and urban respondents.
RESULTS: The response rate was 55.9% (2525/4514). Of the 2203 working respondents, 17.1% self-identified as rural, working in rural general practice or rural hospital medicine. Compared with urban respondents, more rural generalists were male (57.5% rural vs 45.5% urban; P < 0.01), aged ≥ 55 years (38.2% rural vs 32.6% urban; P = 0.04) and involved in teaching (53.0% rural vs 30.0% urban; P < 0.01). IMGs were an integral part of the rural generalist workforce (52.8% rural vs 38.7% urban; P < 0.01). More rural generalists worked ≥ 36 h per week (66.8% rural vs 50.4% urban; P < 0.01) and they were more likely to retire within the next 10 years (40.4% rural vs 34.7% urban; P = 0.0417).
DISCUSSION: The rural medical generalist workforce continues to be mainly male, older and consist of a high proportion of IMGs. Findings confirm the fragility of this workforce and highlight the need for renewed efforts to improve recruitment and retention.
KEYWORDS: New Zealand; rural medical workforce; general practice; rural hospital medicine; recruitment and retention
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