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Issues pertaining to recruitment and retention of rural and remote optometrists in Australia

Main, Robyn, Optometry & Vision Science, Faculty of Science, UNSW


  • Title:
    Issues pertaining to recruitment and retention of rural and remote optometrists in Australia
  • Author/Creator: Main, Robyn, Optometry & Vision Science, Faculty of Science, UNSW
  • Resource type: Thesis
  • Type of thesis: Masters
  • Date: 2012
  • Awarding institution: University of New South Wales. Optometry & Vision Science
  • Description: The awareness of a gap in eye health care between the rural and urban populations of Australia became obvious in the 1990s and continues today. Optometrists are the main providers of primary eye health care and therefore the question of who practises optometry in rural and remote areas is of major importance to address this problem. The aim of this research is to find out what issues face rural and remotely located optometrists in Australia. Some of the questions that were investigated were: how can the maldistribution of optometrists in rural areas be addressed? Is there a profile of the type of optometrist who practises in rural or remote places? How far do patients and optometrists travel to access eye care/offer services? What are the issues concerning the geographical availability of rural and remote eye care services? A literature review was conducted of studies done in the area of rural health care and the supply of optometry services in rural and remote locations. A quantitative questionnaire was developed for the purpose of discovering who successfully practised in these areas, along with retention and support issues. Optometrists who had worked in Australian rural and remote areas for at least five years and those who offered services to Aboriginal, mining and agricultural communities were targeted. Fifty questionnaires were sent and a response rate of 24/50 (48%) was obtained. Four case studies were also conducted to examine themes, similarities and differences to supplement the data qualitatively. Demographics of the respondents showed that rural raised male optometrists ranked highly in the numbers of those practising in areas with populations of less than 25000 people. The other optometrists who practised in rural areas who didn’t have rural backgrounds tended to be married to partners who did. Most respondents cited lifestyle reasons for staying, rather than financial incentives. Secondary schooling opportunities for their teenage children were the main issue for considering moving to a larger centre. A third of this rural optometry workforce sample is planning to retire within the next five years. Solutions are discussed that can reduce the existing gap in the demand and supply of the primary eye care practitioners who are fighting visual impairment “at the coalface” of rural Australia.
  • Supervisor: Dain, Stephen , Optometry & Vision Science, Faculty of Science, UNSW
  • Language: English
  • Rights:;
  • Print Availability: T/2012/357 (Ask at Level 2 Help Zone, UNSW Library)

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