10 years of the Rural Generalist Program

The rural generalist program changed the face of rural medicine in Queensland, and was started right here in Roma.

This year marks ten years since the program began and medical professionals gathered in Roma to discuss their achievements and look to the future.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, Hon. Cameron Dick was a guest speaker at the forum on the weekend.

“The Rural Generalist Pathway has had a very significant impact on the delivery of health and services to rural, regional and remote parts of our state and it’s wonderful to think that this innovation and this idea started in the town of Roma,” he said.

It’s come a long way.

Bruce Garvie was Mayor of Roma when the program first began and was part of the team tasked with attracting and retaining medical professionals in town.

He says flexibility was always a key component to the program.

“The reality is if you want to have good rural health, or good anything in the bush, you need to have flexibility.”

“If rural industries want to survive and prosper they need to be more flexible in their approach to things”

The creation of the Rural Generalist Pathway was a way to attract doctors to rural areas with a defined career progression…and ten years on it continues to grow.

Minister Dick says its a one of a kind program.

“More than 50 fellows go through the program. We’ve had hundreds of doctors now trained as rural generalists, with more to come,” he said.

“By 2019 there will be 400 rural generalists in our health system, in the pathway helping regional, rural and remote communities and that will be the largest number of rural generalists anywhere in the world.”

The pathway is not only beneficial for local communities it also offers huge benefits for doctors.

Dr Matt VanGent moved to the Roma Hospital and said it’s broadened his skill set.

“Definitely an interesting and challenging career and there’s a lot of variety involve,” he says. “It’s a well set out pathway and you get to do a bit of everything basically.”

And now he’s hooked!

Matt says he would encourage the program to anyone thinking about moving regional and with a town like Roma, who could disagree!