The difficulties of retaining medical practitioners in the Northern Territory have been laid bare, with a study showing a 50 per cent fall in the number of junior doctors deciding to become GPs.
The NT leads a national trend of declining enrolments in general practitioner training, according to the Menzies School of Health Research.
"This is a complex problem and there is no easy solution," researcher Deb Russell said in a statement on Tuesday.
Historically, the NT has struggled to attract and retain GPs, especially in remote areas.
It relies heavily on locally training junior doctors to become GPs, however, between 2016 and 2020 new enrolments fell by 50 per cent.
The decline is far larger than the national average of 12 per cent.
Dr Russell said graduating medical students and junior doctors need to be attracted to GP training as soon as they graduate.
"Many are still making up their minds about their career path at this time," she said.
Training opportunities in remote areas should be offered, along with cultural awareness education and support to overcome the barriers to rural work.
Training GPs should also be offered the same pay and benefits as doctors working in hospitals, the study found.
Also, intern and other hospital training positions should also be awarded to junior doctors who express an interest in rural general practice, Aboriginal health, remote medicine, and staying in the NT long term.
"Solving the problem in the NT will need a coordinated response from multiple agencies, including the Australian and NT government departments of health, GP colleges and regional training organisations," Dr Russell said.