RARMS launches rural GP campaign for our communities

Updated: Apr 19


RARMS has launched a new rural and remote GP recruitment campaign to show doctors some of the benefits of working in outback communities.

”As a charity, RARMS has been one of the most successful organisations in attracting doctors to live and work in rural and remote NSW over the last twenty years” said Mark Burdack, the new Chief Executive Officer of RARMS.

“Without RARMS, many of our towns would have lost their local GPs, hospitals and other health services completely as we have seen happen elsewhere.


”We have gone from three practices to ten over that period and now have responsibility for 20,000 patients, a quarter of which are Indigenous.


”One of the challenges for rural and remote communities in attracting GPs is to address all the negative stereotypes that doctors get fed about working in rural medicine. That is one of the goals of the campaign.

“The fact is that rural and metro practice are more alike than they are different. Where rural practice really stands out is the quality of the experiences that doctors new to medical practice in Australia can develop, and the tangible difference you can make to the lives of rural and Indigenous people.


The new campaign highlights the lifestyle benefits of rural living and addresses the stereotypes about rural practice.


”Every time you read something about rural medical practice in the national media, its all about doctor shortages, the lack of work/life balance or environmental challenges.


”You rarely hear about the challenges of city medical practice like the stress of meeting commercial targets, unaffordable housing, the hours spent in a car driving to work, the pollution, the crime, and the time lost with your kids and family as they grow up.


”We need a more balanced case for rural and metro practice. Metro practice has its advantages, as does rural practice.


”Many of the things that people identify as challenges in rural practice were addressed by RARMS a long time ago.


“Our doctors drive to work which might be a 5 or 10 minute journey. They go home for lunch or drop into a local cafe.

“After work you can head out on a bush walk with the family, relax in the Artesian hot springs in the Ridge, wander down to the River Fish Trap in Brewarrina, paddle a canoe in Bourke, take the kids horse riding in Coolah or Bingara or go out to dinner with friends.


“If our GPs want to take a holiday, or time-off for study, RARMS’ sorts out a Locum. These towns are well connected by air services - you can be in Sydney from Bourke the same day with only two hours and twenty minutes flying time.

“RARMS developed a Remote GP Service to provide telehealth after-hours and on weekends to cover low acuity matters and now delivers up to 1,000 telehealth consults a month supporting GP/VMOs in more than 40 rural locations.

Mr Burdack explained that rural and remote communities are not expecting doctors to stay for the rest of their lives.


”It would be nice if a GP decided to remain, but that is not why RARMS was set up and rural people understand that doctors may want a change over time.


”The RARMS ‘Walk-in, Walk-out’ model has been designed to make it as easy as possible for GPs to enter the rural medical workforce, and leave graciously when it is time.


”Doctors often ask if rural practice is harder than metro practice. I always say “have you ever heard anyone say that metro practice is easy!‘ The fact is that general practice is one of the most complex and challenging specialities because doctors need to be across such a wide range of issues. It’s no different in rural practice.


”However, a critical point of difference between RARMS and many metro medical practices is that we are a charity. You can work with RARMS for a year or two, or on a two-week on, two-week-off roster, and know that you are not only gaining valuable skills but you are helping to close the gap in health outcomes for your fellow Australians” said Mr Burdack.

The campaign will formally launch on Monday 20 April 2020 and continue for 6 months. New highlight pages are being created for every rural town RARMS works in to demonstrate the benefits of rural living and the flexible options that RARMS offers GPs.


Community members will shortly be invited to get creative and help RARMS sell the benefits of their community by contributing a video about their town, or by sending a personal message to future rural doctors about the importance of general practice in their community.


For more information please contact Mark Burdack, Chief Executive Officer of Rural and Remote Medical Services Ltd (RARMS) and RARMS Health on 0418 974 988.

To view the campaign please go to: https://www.ruralandremotehealth.org.au/makethemove







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Rural and Remote Medical Services Ltd was formed by the NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN) to address the chronic shortage of doctors in rural and remote NSW.  Using the 'Easy Entry, Gracious Exit' model developed by RDN, RARMS has grown to support ten of NSW's most disadvantaged and vulnerable communities to attract and retain GPs over the last 20 years.  Now an independent charity, RARMS acknowledges the work and dedication of RDN and its officers and staff in helping to establish Australia's most successful rural and remote medical workforce solution.

Our Clinics are independently accredited by external medical experts so our communities can be confident in our care.

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RARMS is a registered not-for-profit charity and every dollar we receive goes to improving the health and sustainability of rural and remote communities.

RARMS delivers more than 20,000 medical consultations every year, keeping our communities healthy and safe.

We pay our respects to all First Nation elders past, present and future from the lands where RARMS works.  RARMS  acknowledges the Awabakal people in Newcastle, the Wiradjuri, Ngemba and Kamilaroi people in Western NSW, the Hunter and New England, the Ngunnawal and Yuin people in Braidwood, and the Barkindji and Wilyakali people in far west NSW who are the traditional custodians of the land on which RARMS works.

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