RMFN is a not for profit, non government organisation with around 900 members. It operates as a committee of the NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN) and is an important support service that contributes to the recruitment and retention of medical and health professionals in rural NSW. This in turn assists RDN in its mission to improve the health status of rural NSW communities. Research has shown that retention is improved when families are supported and feel part of their community, and this is backed up by feedback obtained through RDN’s periodic GP workforce surveys.
RMFN supports the recruitment and retention of medical and health professionals in rural NSW by addressing the unique needs of their spouses and families through, for example:
- Great family programs during RDN’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) conferences.
- A seasonal newsletter, Rural Family Rustlings, providing updates on CPD and networking opportunities, as well as sharing experiences from rural medical families and Working HUGs participants.
- Crisis assistance for rural doctors and their families who are stressed or ill.
- Meet & Greet gatherings.
- A friendship network to lessen feelings of loneliness and isolation experienced by some rural families. See the Bush Friends page for more information.
- Free membership to RMFN for spouses and families of rural GPs.
RMFN also offers assistance to medical students interested in experiencing rural general practice through the Working Holidays for Under GraduateS (Working HUGs) program. It provides an opportunity for undergraduate medical students to experience aspects of rural medical life–the challenges, the benefits and the experience of living and working closely with a rural community–and may even lead to future employment opportunities.
*For example: Kamien, M. (1998). Staying In or Leaving Rural Practice: 1996 Outcomes of Rural Doctors’ 1986 Intentions. The Medical Journal of Australia, 169(6), 318–321; McGrail, M. R., & Humphreys, J. S. (2015). Geographical mobility of general practitioners in rural Australia. Medical Journal of Australia 203(2), 92–7, doi: 10.5694/mja14.01375.