Riverina health professionals have welcomed a "terrific scheme" that will see the student debts of general practitioners who go rural or remote wiped.
The program, which will also apply to nurse practitioners, starts in January next year and means doctors who spend the equivalent amount of time to their degree - generally four to six years - in areas with populations between 5000 and 50,000 will have their HECS or HELP debt wiped.
According to Michael Brydon, the director of Notre Dame's Riverina Regional Training Hub, the doctor drought in regional communities has been an issue for decades.
"This is a terrific scheme and a tangible investment in a new workforce that are trying to decide what to and where they spend the next 10 or 20 years," he said.
"If there is a release from the significant HECS fees, it would be a helpful part in swinging them in the direction of rural and regional life."
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Professor Brydon said a problem regional communities face is a lack of healthcare providers and medical students shifting away from general practice to specialities.
"Far too many of our doctors want to become specialists, and we want them to become generalists," he said. "GPs are the backbone of our health system, and without them, other parts of our system become more costly."
Wagga MP Joe McGirr has welcomed the announcement, adding it was "innovative thinking" but would like to look into extending the scope of the work of rural nurse practitioners.
Dr McGirr was also pleased with the federal government's announcement that it would change distribution priority area classification arrangements to make it easier to recruit from the pool of GPs under location moratoriums.
"This is very welcome because it means that towns like Tumut will be able to take advantage of easier recruitment of overseas doctors," he said.
"These are important additional strategies, but they are not the sole answer to the problem. It remains very important that regional locations should have control of training of health professionals for their own areas."
Nick Stephenson, the chairman of the Riverina Medical Specialist Recruitment and Retention Committee, said a similar scheme for specialists would not necessarily work.
He explained potential earnings in metropolitan areas might outweigh a wiped HECS debt.
"If you can entice a few with this HECS scheme, great. But, it's not a magic bullet," Dr Stephenson said.
"The evidence shows the best way to get doctors to choose to live and work rurally is to get them trained out here, and that should always be the focus."
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