Rural doctors gather to boost regional medical capabilities

FROM farm and road trauma to delivering babies and providing palliative care, rural doctors must know how to handle any situation.

More than 700 rural doctors from around Australia will gather in Queensland this week to gain specialised medical skills and knowledge for rural and remote practice.

The new clinical workshops include ear, nose and throat emergencies, managing snake and spider bites, wound management and mental health training.

Rural Medicine Australia 2013 begins on Thursday but it was preceded this week by the inaugural world summit on rural generalist medicine.

Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine president Richard Murray said the record numbers of rural doctors coming to the summit and conference demonstrated their commitment to broadening their skills and improving access to quality medical care.

"The role of rural doctors is critical in establishing and sustaining health services outside major cities," he said.

"They will often be the front line in a medical emergency, provide specialist services - such as surgery, obstetrics, and anaesthetics - and provide a continuum of care for several generations.

"Rural doctors are natural innovators because of the broad range of medical conditions and circumstance in which they treat patients: from farm and road trauma, to delivering babies and providing palliative care.

"This conference is as much about building the resilience of our rural and remote doctors as it is about skills and innovations," Professor Murray said.

Speakers and delegates will come from the Canada, United States, South Africa, New Zealand, Japan, the Pacific islands and Australia.

Others internationals will participate via webcasts and online discussion groups.