The introduction of the RVTS Targeted Recruitment Strategy in 2018 to boost the recruitment of doctors in locations of high medical workforce need has been a huge success…offering GP Fellowship training as an extra ‘carrot’ to attract doctors to some of Australia’s most remote communities.

RVTS Strategic Development Manager, Veeraja Uppal, has been involved with the strategy since its inception, and firmly believes it’s a game-changer in delivering more doctors to the bush.

He provides a summary of the strategy, and its successes to-date, in this article.

Since 2000, the provision by RVTS of high-quality GP and Rural Generalist medical education and training has supported the retention of over 400 doctors in more than 300 rural, remote and First Nations communities across Australia.

RVTS doctors are required to work at a designated rural, remote or First Nations community during their three to four years of advanced GP training. Pleasingly, workforce retention extends beyond the training period, with many doctors remaining at their original training location and a high percentage remaining in a rural or remote location after achieving their Fellowship.

Until recently, a fundamental requirement for RVTS training selection had been that applicants were already working in an eligible rural, remote or First Nations community. Therefore, the ability for RVTS to assist communities to attract new doctors had been limited.

In 2018, however, RVTS commenced piloting a new Targeted Recruitment strategy, where RVTS GP training was added to the medical recruitment package to attract doctors to specified remote communities with high medical workforce need.

Specifically, RVTS collaborates with the Rural Workforce Agencies, State Health Departments, and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) to identify locations with high medical workforce need that are able to support an RVTS doctor for the duration of their training.

An effective workforce solution

In the five years since it began, the RVTS Targeted Recruitment pilot has supported the recruitment of 18 doctors to the following 24 communities across Australia – Mallacoota and Portland (Victoria), Cunnamulla, Mt Isa, Cooktown, St George and Dalby, Clermont, and Badu Island and Thursday Island (Queensland), Wadeye and Warruwi, and Nhulunbuy (Northern Territory), Queenstown and Rosbery, King Island and Smithton (Tasmania), Fitzroy Crossing and Broome (Western Australia), and Bourke, Lightning Ridge, Boggabri, Dareton and Wentworth (New South Wales).

So why has the Targeted Recruitment strategy been so successful?

Chiefly, because it provides benefits across a number of fronts.

It assists:

The local GP practice or health service – increasing the stability and viability of medical services by lowering their reliance on expensive locum doctors and increasing operational efficiency.

The local community – providing continuity of care to patients, with the doctors remaining in the community for their three to four years of GP training.

The doctor – providing a highly valued and supported training pathway with career progression to GP Fellowship.

Most significantly, Targeted Recruitment is providing a mechanism to attract, retain and train doctors in some of the highest medical workforce need communities across remote Australia.

In 2020, RVTS welcomed additional support from the Australian Government to provide Salary Support to the Targeted Recruitment pilot. This funding has increased the business viability and competitiveness of the locations to secure an RVTS doctor.

RVTS’s GP training streams are proof that “the most successful model of education and training for local comprehensive PHC is socially accountable, immersive community-engaged education woven into a facilitated education and training pathway.” (1)

Our Targeted Recruitment strategy is taking that philosophy into some of the most remote communities of Australia…and the benefits are proving to be enormous.

Current opportunities

We are currently working with 15 rural, remote and First Nations communities that are seeking to secure an RVTS doctor to commence RVTS training in January 2023.

Doctors interested in training at any of the Targeted Recruitment locations listed on the RVTS website can contact us via an online enquiry.

Veeraja Uppal

August 2022


1. Strasser, R. and Strasser, S., 2020. Reimagining Primary Health Care Workforce in Rural and Underserved Settings.

Photo credit

Photo of silo by Hamish Weir on Unsplash.