Rural and Remote Health Journal photo
African section Asian section European section International section Latin American section North American section
current articles
information for authors
status/user profile
about us

Original Research

Prolonging a sustainable working life among older rural GPs: solutions from the horse’s mouth

Submitted: 2 October 2012
Revised: 22 January 2013
Accepted: 13 March 2013
Published: 20 June 2013

Full text: You can view the full article, or view a printable version.
Comments: (login to access the comments on this article)

Author(s) : Hansen V, Pit SW, Honeyman P, Barclay L.

Vibeke HansenSabrina PitPeter HoneymanLesley Barclay

Citation: Hansen V, Pit SW, Honeyman P, Barclay L.  Prolonging a sustainable working life among older rural GPs: solutions from the horse’s mouth. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2013; 13: 2369. Available: (Accessed 21 October 2017)


Introduction:  Rural Australia is facing a potential crisis in the supply and retention of GPs, that is compounded by an aging and earlier-retiring workforce compared with metropolitan areas. The objective of this study was to explore the most important retention factors in a sample of older rural GPs.
Methods:  Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 rural GPs practising in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, Australia. A thematic analysis was conducted on verbatim transcripts.
Results:  GPs used, or perceived as useful, a range of strategies to enable a happy and productive working life beyond traditional retirement age. These strategies covered personal, practice based, and professional strategies as well as systemic factors beyond the practice. The most ubiquitous experiences, initiatives or conditions representing these overarching themes related to being able to achieve a sensible workload, working in a supportive team environment, and being able to fulfil one’s individual need for clinical variety or specialised professional interests.
Conclusions:  Through consultation with older rural GPs, insights were gained into how to develop and implement effective retention strategies, by identifying those factors which are amenable to intervention at either the personal, practice, local or legislative level. A set of potential solutions were proposed which may be instrumental in keeping valued Australian rural GPs happily working for longer.

Key words: Australia, burnout, employability, general practitioners, health professionals, New South Wales, policy, retention, retirement, workforce.

This abstract has been viewed 4011 times since 20-Jun-2013.