A collaborative approach is what we need for rural GP training
I recently had the opportunity to host a Rural GP Summit in Alice Springs. The summit brought together the key people and organisations that contribute towards ensuring there is quality general practice in rural Australia.
At the summit, we analysed what is working well to support GPs to train in rural Australia. We also acknowledged the need for improvements. Including harnessing innovative contemporary learning models, which are flexible, and offer new opportunities. For more details about the announcements the RACGP made at the Rural GP Summit and the opportunities this will create for registrars, see link here.
For me, the greatest outcome from the Rural GP Summit was seeing the willingness of delegates to come together to talk about, and debate, the future of rural general practice education and training. There was such generosity in the sharing of ideas and solutions. There was also courage to discuss what is not working well.
We all know about the challenges associated with supporting general practitioners to train and work in rural Australia.
We know about the struggles to enlist experienced supervisors, and the barriers that prevent registrars from feeling confident to undertake their training in a rural community.
We have lived through the historical division between GP organisations and have witnessed the arm wrestling that occurs between Commonwealth and State Government agencies. All of which creates confusion and duplication and further prevents GPs from addressing community need.
However, we also know that working in rural Australia, as a GP, is one of the best jobs there is.
Where else do you get to use all of your training (sometimes before lunchtime) to provide continuity of care for your community. Rural general practice is about teamwork. Working in teams to address community need in a rural community, is immensely satisfying.
Listening to the discussion and ideas at the Rural GP Summit has given me hope. It has confirmed to me that we need to build collaboration into the design and delivery of future rural general practice training.
We need to ensure junior doctors and registrars are at the table when the education and training frameworks are created. We need to invite medical educators and supervisors to be part of the discussion about how we deliver general practice training in rural Australia. We need to regularly invite feedback from our partner agencies and rural stakeholders. We also need to work with our stakeholders to monitor trends and to mobilise our collective energies and resources, when there are obstacles that are hindering high quality general practice training in rural Australia.
If we can work in collaboration, I am confident we can reform our current approaches to rural general practice training. I am hopeful we can create new flexible models that reflect the aspirations and expectations of our current and future registrars. If we can harness the energy and insights of our registrars, educators and rural stakeholders we can achieve great things.
Our rural communities will be the big winners if we can get this right.