A small town in New Zealand is proving to be a turn-off for candidates, with a $400,000 (£189,000)-plus salary and half the business still not enough to fill a position that has been advertised for two years.
Dr Alan Kenny, who operates the GP practise in Tokoroa, New Zealand, posted job adverts online after four successive recruitment firms could not find a jobseeker to take the positon. His practise, Tokoroa Family Health, has seen the number of patients exceed the recommended number of 25 per GP by the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners.
The salary on offer is more than double the average income of a GP, with expenses on top, as well as no weekend or night work. On top of this, house prices there are amongst the lowest in the country - so why has there been no takers?
Kenny attributes it to a perception that practising in a rural area is a dead-end job. Location is as important to candidates as the job itself. It may be easy selling a capital city to a jobseeker, but a recruiter’s mettle is tested with smaller locations that don’t have a commonly-accepted allure.
Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, he acknowledged that money isn’t everything: “I can offer them a really, really amazing income; it's incredible. My practice has exploded in the last year and the more patients you list, the more money you get. But it just gets too much at the end of the day.
"Just because I earn lots of money doesn't mean I want to work my butt off."
He said the problem lay with recruitment at an academic level: “Auckland has the biggest medical school and most kids who go to medical school come from wealthy families in the Auckland area.
"If they recruited more students from rural areas, they might actually come here. It's a huge problem to find replacements or find locums."
He went on to discuss the personal toll this skills shortage had placed on him: "Last year, I cancelled a holiday because I couldn't get a locum ... and this year I am probably going to have to cancel a holiday ... and it's just tough for me.
"I love my work and I would like to stay but I hit my head against a brick wall trying to attract doctors. If it's hard enough to get doctors to work alongside me, it's going to be a devil of a job to get doctors to replace me."