Why do rural GPs engage in longitudinal integrated community-based clerkships at a time of workforce shortage?
Background: In keeping with its mission to produce doctors for rural and regional Australia, the University of Wollongong Graduate School of Medicine has established an innovative model of clinical education. This involves a 12-month integrated community-based clerkship where students live, learn and work in a regional or rural community. Summary of work: Before the first student cohort started their clerkship, we interviewed 28 general practitioners to determine why they engaged as clerkship supervisors at a time of workforce shortage. Independent researchers conducted semi-structured interviews. Responses were transcribed for thematic analysis. Summary of results: The new model motivated supervisors to engage in the program. It enhanced opportunities to contribute to teaching compared with short-term attachments. Supervisors appreciated the significant recognition of the value of general practice teaching and the honour of major involvement in the university. Other themes included the doctors’ commitment to their profession, ‘handing on’ to the next generation and helping their community to attract doctors in the future. Conclusions: Doctors expected that this innovative longitudinal clerkship model would offer a worthwhile strategy to help address workforce shortages. The longitudinal relationship between preceptor, student and community offered reciprocal benefits. Take-home messages: Supervisors perceive that new clinical education models offer attractive alternative solutions to health care education, delivery and workforce.