A new model to boost access to GPs in the Murrumbidgee region and make rural generalist training more attractive for young doctors has kicked off.
The new program will give junior doctors the experience, exposure and qualifications they need to become rural GPs with additional skills as obstetrics, palliative care or emergency medicine.
It will see up to 20 new doctors trained over four years in the region at Cootamundra, Young, Deniliquin, Temora, Narrandera, Gundagai and an Aboriginal Medical Service in Wagga.
Joe Murphy and Ariah Steel were the first registrars to receive a Murrumbidgee Rural GP training contract through the model.
Dr Steel grew up in Sydney and working in a rural or regional area was not something she considered until a "life-changing" placement in Leeton with Dr Bob Byrne.
She said the program would provide the training as well as stability in having access to leave, making it the perfect way to continue her vocation.
"It's good not to be limited to being a GP - you can working in emergency, you can deliver babies, you can do palliative care," Dr Steel said.
"I think this will appeal to a lot of people who think being a GP is just sitting in an office."
Dr Steel wants to be a doctor that could be dropped by parachute into the middle of nowhere and help someone who is injured stay alive. She said this model would help her become that doctor.
Dr Murphy grew up on a sheep and wheat farm near the small village of Bribbaree, on the outskirts of MLHD.
This means he has witnessed first-hand the difficulty in accessing health services in regional NSW as well as how isolating it can be for doctors.
"Being able to stay with one employer while I continue my training reduces the administrative burden of moving between employers and facilities," he said.
"It allows me the flexibility to continue with my GP training in the community as well as do shifts as an obstetrics registrar at Wagga Base Hospital.
"I can also upskill in different areas such as emergency and paediatrics - areas that play a big role for rural GPs."
Federal Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton said the model would show how new approaches can address gaps in health care and improve the attractiveness of rural medical training.
"Building a stronger workforce is key to strengthening rural communities," he said.
"A big focus of mine as Rural Health Minister is demonstrating that rural areas are a land of opportunity for young doctors and shouldn't be seen as a second prize."