Working in a Rural Medicine job

Facts about working as a rural medicine physician in New Zealand and Australia

Sarah Peddie

Here at Odyssey Recruitment, we have jobs for Rural Medicine physicians in hospitals in popular locations. In this article, we take a look at why you should consider going into the profession and the benefits in working within rural health.

Rural medicine is a good career choice for medical professionals who want to be challenged within their job but it is also very personally rewarding. Working in rural health means you get to work with a wide variety of patients with a vast range of medical and surgical issues.

But first, we take a look at what rural medicine really is and what working in that sector of healthcare would mean for medical professionals. 

What is rural medicine?

Rural medicine is all about delivering healthcare in rural environments and helping residents who live in rural communities. Rural health incorporates many fields such as geography, midwifery, nursing and sociology. 

Many countries have increased funding for research into rural health. Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand have all developed research institutes with rural health mandates. They are designed to help identify the healthcare needs of the rural communities within their country and make sure those needs are met. 

Why is rural medicine needed?

Healthcare needs of people that live in rural areas are completely different to those who live in urban areas. Rural residents often suffer from the lack of healthcare offered to them. Rural communities typically have a large population of elderly people and children as well with few people actually at working age these communities have a high dependency ratio. 

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Residents living in these communities usually live in poorer economic conditions, less education and higher mortality rates compared to those in urban areas. 

There are less GPs, mental health programmes, healthcare facilities in rural areas which means there is preventative care and longer response times regarding emergencies. Due to the lack of healthcare workers in these areas, rural residents will receive their healthcare over the phone or by video call. For example, Canadians living in small rural towns have access to half as many physicians as people who live in urban areas. 


With the intention to increase the access to healthcare in rural areas, there are many opportunities in the field for doctors and physicians. Many undergraduate courses have now started to expose students to healthcare in rural settings in an aim to overcome the shortage of physicians compared to urban areas. 

Rural medicine is common in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and this is where you would usually find these jobs. 

Skills you need to work in rural medicine

When working in rural medicine, you need to have different skills compared to working in urban areas. Working with rural communities you must be prepared for any situation. If you are the only doctor for a certain amount of miles then you have to be prepared to deal with any sort of health problem. This means that you have to have pretty good knowledge of a range of different medical areas. 

You must be flexible when working in rural health - try and be innovative when finding alternative ways to treat patients like offering evening or weekend appointments or making a house call. 

Always try to improve your skill set and keep learning on the job. Getting out of your area and meeting up with fellow doctors to discuss and vent will really help you progress in your rural medicine career. Make sure you travel to conferences and workshops whenever it’s possible to improve your skills and keep up to date on the latest information and technology.

You have to be familiar with the technology that is used in rural health. Sometimes, technology will be used to help with patients travelling for hours to see a doctor. 

If you fancy a job in rural medicine then register with Odyssey Recruitment today and we could help you find the perfect job.