Responsive policies needed to secure rural supply from increasing female doctors: A perspective

Belinda O'Sullivan, Matthew McGrail, Jennifer May

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Around the world, the supply of rural health services to address population health needs continues to be a wicked problem. Adding to this, an increasing proportion of female doctors is graduating from medical courses but gender is not accounted for within rural workforce policy and planning. This threatens the future capacity of rural medical services. This perspective draws together the latest evidence, to make the case for industry and government action on responsive policy and planning to attract females to rural medicine. We find that the factors that attract female doctors to rural practice are not the same as males. We identify female-tailored policies require a re-visioning of rural recruitment, use of employment arrangements that attract females and re-thinking issues of rural training and specialty choice. We conceptualise a roadmap that includes co-designing rural jobs within supportive teams, allowing for capped hours which align with childcare along with boosting of female peer support and mentorship. There is also a need to enhance flexible rural postgraduate training options in a range of specialties (at a time when many women are establishing families) and to consider viable partner employment (including for female doctors with university trained partners) and advertising specific rural attractors to women, including the chance to connect with communities and make a difference.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-49
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Health Planning and Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • female doctors
  • gender
  • policy
  • recruitment
  • rural medicine

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