RURAL ROTATIONS FOR INTERNS: A DEMONSTRATION PROGRAMME IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA
The Commonwealth Government of Australia, through policy initiatives and increased funding, has placed significant emphasis on increasing undergraduate rural experiences for medical students. However, in the immediate postgraduate years, rural community based rotations are uncommon, with the vast majority of intern experiences remaining hospital based. Since 1997, Flinders Medical Centre, Flinders University and the rural communities of Cleve and Jamestown have run a preregistration rural intern-training position based in rural general practice. The present article describes the programme, its evolution and the problems that have been overcome. The term provides a blend of hospital and community based experiences appropriate for junior doctors not yet familiar with ambulatory care. At the same time, the junior doctors have consistently reported a high-quality learning experience, with ready access to patients and procedural work. We describe the qualitative and quantitative methods we have recently introduced for evaluation of the programme.