Attracting junior doctors to rural centres: A national study of work-life conditions and satisfaction

Matthew Lennon, Belinda O’Sullivan, Matthew McGrail, Deborah Russell, Joseph Suttie, John Preddy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Junior doctors, in their first four years of medical work, are an important part of the health care team. Attracting and retaining these doctors to rural areas underpins the development of the future rural workforce. This is the first national-scale study about satisfaction of junior doctors, based on their work location, to inform recruitment and retention. Design: Repeat cross-sectional data 2008 and 2015, pooled for analysis. Setting: Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life survey. Participants: First responses of 4581 pre-vocational doctors working as interns up to their fourth postgraduate year. Main outcome measures: Differences between metropolitan and rural respondents in satisfaction and positivity on two inventories. Results: Overall work satisfaction was approximately 85% amongst rural and metropolitan junior doctors, but controlling for other factors rural junior doctors had significantly higher overall satisfaction. Rural junior doctors were significantly more satisfied with their work-life balance, ability to obtain desired leave and leave at short notice, personal study time and access to leisure interests compared with metropolitan junior doctors. Metropolitan junior doctors were more satisfied with the network of doctors supporting them and the opportunities for family. Conclusion: While both metropolitan and rural junior doctors are generally satisfied, many professional and personal aspects of satisfaction differ considerably by work location. In order to attract early career doctors, the benefits of rural work should be emphasised and perceived weaknesses mitigated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482-488
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Journal of Rural Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • health policy
  • health service development
  • recruitment and retention
  • rural workforce development
  • surveys


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