How long is a health professional likely to stay in a job in rural or remote Australia?

Since I’ve been building the resources on My Health Career, I’ve been interested in where the jobs are for health professional, in particular, primary health care practitioners (such as podiatrists, physiotherapists, and doctors). When I was at the Primary Health Care Research & Information Service (PHC RIS) conference in July, I heard a very interesting talk by Dr Deborah Russell, called “How Long Will You Stay?” In 2013, Dr Russell had a paper published (along with two other authors John Wakeman and John Humphreys) called “What is a reasonable length of employment for health workers in Australian rural and remote primary healthcare services?”


So let’s get going with the first graph from this study:


From Figure 1, you can see that rural and remote nurses have a better probability of staying compared to allied health practitioners (such as podiatrists, physiotherapists, social workers), especially when the time frame extends beyond six months.


Table 3 from the study is also interesting. It gives the median survival (in years), as well as the 12 and 24 month retention probability for each of the groups in the study. It shows that nurses and practice managers are more likely to stay for the longest period of time working in a rural or remote setting compared to doctors, allied health professionals and aboriginal health workers.



Why was this study done?

  1. There have been longstanding shortages of health professionals in a number of disciplines in rural areas in Australia
  2. It can cost from 0.75 to 2 times an annual salary of the health professional to recruit them and get them up to speed, therefore retention is important (see Table 2):



Further information about this study:

  1. If you would like to watch a webcast of Dr Russell’s presentation of the research at the PHC RIS conference, click here.
  2. You can read the full article courtesy of CSIRO publishing here.
  3. PHC RIS conference abstract – How long will you stay?


Figures and Tables from this study are from the CSIRO’s open access document from the Australian Health Review journal “What is a reasonable length of employment for health workers in Australian rural and remote primary healthcare services?”


I hope you’ve survived the tables and graphs and gotten some useful information out of them!!

Amanda :-)

Founder My Health Career

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  1. Are there any stats re pharmacists employed in remote health services?
    Rollo Manning

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Rollo,
      Thanks for your question. Unfortunately this particular study did not include pharmacists. We will publish a post relating to this when we find one!
      Amanda – Founder My Health Career.

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