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Intern Med J. 2016 Aug;46(8):981-5. doi: 10.1111/imj.13156.

Characteristics of Queensland physicians and the influence of rural exposure on practice location.

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Schools of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Schools of Public Health, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Genetic Health Queensland, Royal Brisbane & Women's Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
School of Medicine, Griffith University, Nathan, Queensland, Australia.
Office of the Principal Medical Officer, Queensland Health, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.


The Queensland branch of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) commissioned this study to update their workforce profile and examine rural practice. The present investigation aimed to describe characteristics of Queensland physicians and determine the influence of childhood and training locations on current rural practice. A cross-sectional online survey, conducted 4 July-4 November 2013, was administered to Fellows of The RACP, Queensland. Descriptive statistics report characteristics and logistic regression analyses identify associations and interactions. The outcome measure was current practice location using the Australian Standard Geographic Classification - Remoteness Area. Data were obtained for 633 physicians. Their average age was 49.5 years, a third was female and a quarter was in rural practice. Rural practice was associated with a rural childhood (odds ratio (OR) (95% confidence interval, CI) 1.89 (1.10, 3.27) P = 0.02) and any time spent as an intern (OR 4.07 (2.12, 7.82) P < 0.001) or registrar (OR 4.00 (2.21, 7.26) P < 0.001) in a rural location. Physicians with a rural childhood and rural training were most likely to be in rural practice. However, those who had a metropolitan childhood and a rural internship were approximately five times more likely to be working in rural practice than physicians with no rural exposure (OR 5.33 (1.61, 17.60) P < 0.01). The findings demonstrate the positive effect of rural vocational training on rural practice. A prospective study would determine if recent changes to the Basic Physician Training Pathway and the Basic Paediatric Training Network (more rural training than previous pathways) increases the rate of rural practice.


Queensland; health manpower; medical staff; regional health planning; rural health services

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