Practice in rural and remote areas can offer varied and interesting benefits to a doctor’s career. However, rural settings can also often be perceived as challenging clinical environments as well as lacking some of the conveniences of city life - factors contributing to the shortage of qualified doctors recruited and retained to these rural areas. Wales has one of the lowest doctor : patient ratios in Europe. International research indicates that deep and immersive exposure to clinical experience in a rural healthcare environment may be a contributing factor in facilitating the retention of medics to rural areas. In 2016, Swansea University School of Medicine will launch a Rural Health Academic Fellows Programme. The programme will recruit 2 fellows (qualified GPs/other specialists) a year who will work as supernumerary GPs or specialists in approved, allocated rural practices and/or hospitals for 3 days a week. The other 2 days a week will be dedicated to pursuing academic work, under the guidance of a Swansea University School of Medicine Senior Clinical Academic. Fellows will be strongly encouraged to pursue a postgraduate qualification and to produce work worthy of publication in peer-reviewed journals. Each fellowship is for 3 years. The programme aims to:
Encourage academic GP/specialist practice
Increase recruitment of GPs/specialists to rural Wales
Give pressurised rural primary care service providers the opportunity to engage in personal and practice development
Increase the retention of GPs/specialists to rural Wales.
This abstract was presented at the Innovative Solutions in Remote Healthcare - 'Rethinking Remote' conference, 23-24 May 2016, Inverness, Scotland.