The new president of Rural Doctors Association of Queensland says the medical fraternity must focus on attracting more junior doctors if it is to fix the industry's staffing crisis.
The Goondiwindi-based rural generalist, who was officially inaugurated at the RDAQ AGM on Saturday at the annual conference in Gladstone, said inspiring young people to go bush was one of the best ways to tackle the issue.
"The conference this year in particular was focused on cultivating, nurturing and thriving, so really trying to make inroads into the crisis that we have in the rural health workforce at the moment, and encourage more junior doctors to go into general practice and rural practice," Dr Masel said.
Dr Masel said senior doctors sharing positive stories about their bush communities, treating juniors with respect, removing bureaucratic barriers, and fostering international doctors' talents were all ways to improve uptake.
He also said a 'strength in numbers' approach would be a major hallmark of his tenure.
"Some of our hard working colleagues may not even know about this quite extraordinary association of good people," he said.
According to Dr Masel, only one in five rural doctors in Queensland were currently RDAQ members.
"This uplifting feeling we get from being part of something bigger - I think we just need to get that out to everyone out there," Dr Masel said.
He wants to see the membership expand - especially rural GPs and non-GP specialists, and current registrars.
"The impact RDAQ can have in advocating for all of us grows with each and every additional member."
However, while the lack of doctors in the bush is real and problematic, the situation across the state is not all negative.
"It's not all doom and gloom. It's not even half doom and gloom," Dr Masel said.
"In fact, we live in the best state of this very lucky country. And the rural areas we come from are beautiful and stunning and special. And we are part of what may well be the best health system in the world. And I know some may raise their eyebrows, but you could say it's actually the worst health system in the world except for all the other ones, if you were Churchill."
Dr Masel has taken the reins from outgoing president Dr Michael Reinke from Bowen, who said Dr Masel would be hitting the ground running.
"I am very grateful to our incoming president Dr Matt Masel who has been very active in the lead up to [the] official handover, including representing RDAQ as chair of the Queensland GP Alliance in its vocal advocacy for general practice in Queensland," Dr Reinke said.
"I'm proud of the advances RDAQ has made over the past year and I'm looking forward to seeing what Matt and the new management committee achieves in 2023."
Dr Alex Dunn of Gympie was elected as president-elect, meaning he will take over from Dr Masel next year.
Dr Masel's family has rural origins including his grandfather who was a rural GP in Stanthorpe, operating out of consulting rooms from the family home.
While studying, he found himself fascinated with all areas of medicine, for all people, of all ages, so generalist practice beckoned.
Together with wife, Dr Sue Masel, he embarked on training in various areas across Queensland before settling in Goondiwindi 22-years ago.
They both now work in their general practice with three other partners and provide services at the Goondiwindi Hospital.
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