Need doctors out bush? Try sending the graduates out first

PUTTING fresh medical graduates in the bush for short-term placements can help change their attitudes to rural health, a new study has found.

The study, by University of Melbourne researchers, showed short-term rural placements could change medical student perceptions of rural health.

While the study did not prove that rural health placements would result in more young doctors choosing to work in the bush, it revealed more potential for addressing languishing services.

Key to changing the way rural health work is seen by young graduates was improving their knowledge of the issues facing the sector.

Leader researcher Professor Julian Wright said the placements provided a valuable opportunity for students to learn in centres outside the big cities.

Prof Wright said focus groups involved in the research showed a "significant shift in their appreciation of, and positivity towards rural practice".

He said it suggested there were benefits from such placements in improving attitudes towards work in the rural health sector.