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The Country Town Dancing And Singing To Lure More Doctors

The shortage of medical practitioners in rural and remote Australia has been a problem for a long time -- so one town has taken matters into its own (jazz) hands.

The little town of Temora, in south-west NSW is facing the imminent retirement of nearly half of its doctors.

But rather than wait for that to happen, 100 locals put their dancing shoes on in an unconventional recruitment drive, with a new online video to promote the town -- featuring school dance groups, an elderly resident in a wheelchair, lawn bowls enthusiasts and local mums.

It's the brain-child of local GP and obstetrician Rachel Christmas, who works at one of the town's two medical centres.

"We thought of this as an online campaign that builds a story about our town," Christmas told 10 daily.

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The three-minute video clip was released on Wednesday night and has since been watched more than 20,000 times on Facebook and YouTube.

The Great Quack Quest video is helping to put the town, population 4000, on the digital map.

"It's a message in the lead up to the state election that we don't want to be the forgotten people. Rural health needs to always be on the agenda," Christmas said.

The song lyrics include lines like "What about something new? Maybe a better view, maybe the country side" and "picture a place where GPs are adored".

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Christmas says the community support and local connections are something cities can't compete with.

"But you have to be the right person for this sort of role because everyone knows everyone," she said.

"I'm your GP but you teach my daughter at school and the person I treat can also be the same person that cuts  my hair."

Dr Christmas treating a patient. IMAGE: supplied

“It’s ruffled feathers but in a great way," Temora Shire mayor Rick Firman said. 

"Drawing in new GPs is a challenge for many regional communities, so we hope everyone will watch the video, share it and help this serious message out to as many people as possible.”

In its 2015 workforce survey, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that the number of medical practitioners per head in rural and remote areas was 2.5 per 1000 people -- compared with 4.1 per 1000 in cities.

When you take into consideration the poorer health status and greater medical needs of Aussies in rural and remote areas -- the doctor gap is even wider.

Contact the author alattouf@networkten.com.au