Last August 2022, the GP Registrars Pilot Training Program was launched. This Pilot was funded by the Department of Health and Aged Care to assign GP registrars to rural and remote areas without on-site supervisors in order to support registrars through remote supervisors. As part of the Australian General Practice Training program, the pilot will evaluate and improve the RACGP remote supervision guidelines.
According to Dr. Nicole Higgins, RACGP President, this pilot aims to improve GP access. According to her, placing registrars in rural and remote areas is essential. It is a way to bolster the future of general practice
As of today, the pilot is being implemented in Norfolk Island and the rural New South Wales town of Walgett at an Aboriginal Medical Service. Furthermore, this pilot will also allow registrars’ work flexibility while offering sustainable medical service.
According to Associate Professor Jill Benson, RACGP Senior Medical Advisor, this pilot is a developmentally favourable move for both the communities and the registrar as it also gives way for more opportunities for the latter.
The RACGP intends to expand the program's reach and find 10 to 20 additional remote communities that have had trouble luring or keeping a doctor on staff and could be good candidates for remote registrar training.
RACGP Rural Awards Program: Who are the National Awardees?
Yearly, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners recognises Rural GPs who have provided outstanding service to the country and its community. These GPs received their credits during the 2022 RACGP Fellowship, Academic and Awards Ceremony which was held last November 27, 2022.
a) Brian Williams Award
The Brian Williams Award was given to Dr. Margaret Garde of Portland, Victoria. Dr. Garde’s contribution to rural medical education in the Portland and Heywood community has truly changed the way how the community takes a look at their health. Dr. Garde has been in GP training for 20 years and is continuously involved in the following:
Rural and regional training programs
Supervising registrars and international medical graduates
GP training and management at Deakin University
Currently, Dr. Garde acts as the Clinical Director at Active Health Portland. Here, she is responsible for providing healthcare for local organisations, family planning, Aboriginal health, public and adolescent health, forensic medicine, and occupational and mental health.
Moreover, Dr. Garde aims to offer accessible primary care for everyone. According to her, it is important to help the community, especially those who need help the most. Thus, providing help to medical students, interns, and GPs in training is also essential as they will also offer medical services to the community sooner.
b) Rural GP in Training of the Year Award
The Rural GP in Training of the Year Award was given to Dr. Kieran Webb-Sawyer of Lithgow, New South Wales, because of his dedication to increasing access to training in paediatrics and giving way to the accreditation of a developmental and behavioural paediatrics training post at Woodward, NSW.
According to Dr. Kieran, rural GPs are firmly ingrained in the communities and they interact with patients to help them meet their needs on a daily basis. As a result, GPs gain invaluable practical knowledge of the setting in which the patients and communities operate as well as of the critical service gaps that exist outside of major cities.
Dr. Kieran also states that the needs of patients are not fully seen. Thus, it is crucial to maintain an open line of communication with the community about what needs they need, what is changing, and how these could be met.
c) Rural Medicine Student Bursary Award
The Rural Medicine Student Bursary Award was given to Mr. Jared Lawrence from the University of New England. This award was made possible by his essay about his experience during his general practice placement at Coonabarabran, New South Wales.
During this placement, he learned the benefits rural general practice gives and how this training allowed him to increase his confidence and enhance his skills, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. According to Mr. Jared, his realisations regarding the health issues of rural communities motivated him to do better and continue his medicine journey into the rural GP profession.
d) Community Project of the Year Award
The Community Project of the Year Award was given to Dr. Matthew Poole of Perth, Western Australia, because of his work to improve screening for and treatment of anaemia, specifically among Aboriginal children in his state. In his work, it was found that there are barriers to medical screening in children. After his presentation, the rate of annualised screening was increased up to 17%.
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