Your safety and wellbeing
Work health and safety
Although the RACGP is not your employer, we recognise our responsibility to promote the safety and wellbeing of registrars and minimise risk factors as far as practicable throughout the training program. This is supported by our GP in Training Safety and Wellbeing Policy.
As employers of registrars, training sites have work health and safety obligations that are governed by federal and state legislation. You should discuss work health and safety with your supervisor and/or training site manager during your orientation, including the management of hazards, adverse events, near misses and critical incidents, should they occur.
As a registrar working at a training site, you also have a duty to take reasonable care of your own and others’ health and safety. This includes managing your risk of fatigue and ensuring your acts and omissions don’t adversely affect others. Refer to Safe Work Australia for more information.
The health and safety of registrars is also addressed by the National Terms and Conditions for the Employment of Registrars.
Stress and fatigue in general practice
We encourage you and your practice to be familiar with our policy position statement, Stress and fatigue in General Practice. It covers important information about what stress and fatigue means in clinical general practice, and provides suggestions for effective discussions between registrars and supervisors on managing stress and fatigue.
We encourage you to actively look out for warning signs of fatigue and burnout in both yourself and your colleagues. Signs of burnout include exhaustion, desensitisation, a lack of meaning, preoccupation with work and making mistakes.
Find yourself a GP, in a different practice to your own if possible, who you feel comfortable talking to about work and personal stresses, and attend regularly for preventive health.
If you are travelling long distances, at night or on rural roads, it’s your responsibility to be safe while driving. Psychomotor and other functions can be affected by fatigue, and it has been shown that cognitive impairment, reduced motor control and microsleeps increase in fatigued doctors, with obvious implications for road safety.
We strongly encourage you to be safe and avoid driving when fatigued.
Tips for preventing and managing fatigue
- Practise good sleep hygiene, including having a restful sleep environment and avoiding using devices and other technology before bedtime.
- Get regular exercise.
- Eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of fluids and limit your intake of alcohol.
- Take regular breaks at work.
Support for your wellbeing
Connect with your peers
Your peers can be a valuable source of support during your training because they will be going through similar experiences and challenges. Out-of-practice workshops are a great place to meet other registrars, develop friendships and find a registrar study group. Having a support network is an important part of your self-care.
The GP Support Program
The RACGP is committed to fostering a culture of self-care amongst GPs. The GP Support Program is a free service available to all RACGP members.
You can access professional advice to help cope with personal and work-related issues that can impact on your wellbeing, workplace morale, performance and safety, and psychological health. For more information, refer to the GP Support Program.
General Practice Registrars Australia
General Practice Registrars Australia (GPRA) also offers wellbeing advice. GPRA is an independent organisation protecting the rights of general practice trainees; membership is free. More information about support available can be found on the GPRA website.
Indigenous General Practice Registrars Network
Indigenous General Practice Registrars Network (IGPRN) is an advocacy network for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs in training that provides professional, educational, cultural and exam preparation support that is led by peers. Each year, in addition to offering online learning and networking opportunities, IGPRN runs two national workshops and all Indigenous GPs in training are invited to attend. Indigenous GP Fellows are engaged to provide support, education and mentorship. IGPRN members support each other by sharing their experiences and knowledge. The support of Indigenous peers during general practice training makes a significant and positive impact on the whole training experience.
For more information and to become a member, visit www.gpra.org.au/igprn
Australian Indigenous Doctors Association
The Australian Indigenous Doctors Association (AIDA) offers networking and professional development opportunities. It also provides mentoring which allows members to support and guide each other academically and culturally through their medical studies and careers as Indigenous medical doctors. For more information and to become a member, visit the AIDA website.
Having your own GP is important to optimise your own health. DRS4DRS is an independent program providing confidential support and resources to doctors and medical students across Australia, including helping you find your own GP.
The DRS4DRS website provides coordinated access to mental health and wellbeing resources, training on becoming a doctor for doctors, community news and navigation to state and territory helpline and referral services. Confidential phone advice is available 24 hours a day for any doctor or medical student in Australia. More information about support available can be found on the DRS4DRS website.
CRANAplus Bush Support Services
CRANAplus Bush Support Services provides a free and confidential telephone counselling service for rural and remote health practitioners and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is staffed by psychologists, including two Aboriginal psychologists. CRANAplus membership is not required to access the service. More information about support available can be found on the CRANAplus website or phone 1800 805 391.
You can find other self-care resources, including support services, on the RACGP GP wellbeing page.
What can you do when things are not going to plan?
During your training, things may not always go as planned. Your training may be affected by work or training-related factors, as well as personal, social, health, financial or cultural factors.
When you have a problem, it can be very helpful to talk to someone and get some advice. Depending on the issue, you might like to talk with someone in your program team, the registrar liaison officer or a trusted colleague.
If your training site manager or supervisor is concerned about your wellbeing or performance, they may communicate that to your program team.
Issues in the workplace
The RACGP expects all registrars, medical educators, supervisors and training site staff to behave in a professional manner and to treat each other with dignity and respect. Unfortunately, there may still be occasions where bullying or harassment occurs while undertaking training activities. You may also feel unsupported by your supervisor either personally or educationally.
You should be able to report any of these issues to others in the workplace without fear of retribution or fear it may negatively affect your training and career. If you feel comfortable to do so, you should raise the issue with the person you believe to be responsible. This can quickly and informally resolve the issue. If you feel uncomfortable doing so or the issue remains unresolved, you should report any occurrence as per your training site policies and procedures as soon as possible.
If the matter is not resolved through your training site, or you feel unable to report it to them, you can raise the issue with your supervisor, ME, training coordinator or registrar liaison officer, depending on who you feel comfortable speaking to about the issue. They will help guide you through the next best steps, which may include submitting a formal complaint.
If a report is made to the RACGP of bullying, harassment or other issues in the workplace, it will be taken seriously and acted on promptly. Confidentiality will be maintained, and support will be offered to all parties. A fair and unbiased investigation will be conducted, and the process and outcomes will be communicated to all involved promptly.
Refer to Complaints and disputes for more information.
Critical incidents and adverse events
Your training site must have processes in place to manage critical incidents and adverse events, whether they involve registrars, supervisors and/or the training site itself. It is important that you understand your training site’s processes.
Under Australian Medical Council requirements, the RACGP is responsible for ensuring the safety of registrars and patients. A critical incident or adverse event must be reported to us if it involves a registrar or impacts their training. Reporting helps us have national oversight of issues affecting registrars, address any adverse outcomes, prevent harm and improve quality.
The RACGP supports training sites, supervisors and registrars by providing timely assistance to remedy situations and promote a safe, positive clinical learning environment.
An adverse event is any disruptive event that causes, or risks causing, significant harm to patients, registrars, GP supervisors, training site staff, training program staff or the associated organisations involved in program delivery.
A critical incident is any adverse event that results in a serious negative outcome for patients, registrars, GP supervisors, training site staff, training program staff, the RACGP and/or its staff, the reputation of the FSP or any combination of these.
Reporting an incident or event
It is your responsibility to report incidents and events as soon as possible. The privacy of your report will be protected and will only be accessible to RACGP staff who require access.
The RACGP’s adverse event and critical incident management and reporting guideline provides direction for managing events involving registrars and guidelines for reporting. As a registrar, if you are involved in any type of critical incident or adverse event, you must follow the guideline and report the event.
For further information about reporting a critical incident or adverse event, speak to your training coordinator or contact the RACGP at firstname.lastname@example.org