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RACGP educational framework

Guiding principles

Last revised: 05 Oct 2023

Guiding principles

The guiding principles are a statement of the values, priorities, educational philosophy, and scope of education to which the RACGP is committed. We consider these principles to be the basis of best practice medical education of GPs and the means to achieve high-quality general practice.  

The principles are interrelated, interdependent and anchor our educational framework. They address educational imperatives and provide a foundation for the guiding instruments. The guiding instruments provide direction for all our educational programs. 

Figure 2. The 10 guiding principles

RACGP education prioritises holistic, person-centred healthcare.

Holistic, person-centred healthcare is healthcare that meets the complex needs of patients in a respectful way. This approach is recognised as a core feature of general practice.1  

Holistic or whole-person healthcare considers the multiple dimensions of a patient’s life and addresses these in an integrated way. These dimensions include biological, psychological, spiritual, social, and environmental domains.  

Holistic healthcare employs a broad range of treatment modalities centred on the therapeutic value of a supportive and collaborative doctor–patient relationship. Holistic care recognises the doctor’s humanity and their need to be self-aware and attentive to their own health. Holistic care adopts a view that health is more than the absence of disease.1  

Person-centred care is healthcare that respects and responds to the preferences, needs and values of the individual patient. It involves seeking out and understanding what is important to the patient, fostering trust, establishing mutual respect, and working together for shared decisions and care planning. 

RACGP education addresses the health needs of all people living in Australia in an equitable way.

GPs are the primary means of access to healthcare in Australia3 and are the foundation of an effective healthcare system.  

GPs address both individual and community health needs.4 The diversity of sociocultural, economic, and environmental contexts within Australia means that the healthcare needs of patients and communities vary across different contexts. Access to healthcare is not currently equitable across Australia.3 To address this, RACGP education is attentive to different community needs. It is also responsive to local, state and national government health priorities.5  

RACGP education enables GPs and GPs in training to meet these diverse needs and contexts to improve health outcomes and address health inequalities.6–8 This is particularly important for:  

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples  
  • rural and remote communities   
  • minority and disadvantaged groups including  
    • migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers  
    • people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds  
    • people living with disability  
    • people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse, intersex, queer/questioning or asexual (LGBTIQA+)  
    • people living with financial or social disadvantage.   

RACGP education equips GPs to be sensitive to the health needs of all people living in Australia and supports GPs in being advocates for individuals and communities.  

RACGP education also supports GPs to engage in population health initiatives, including infectious disease screening and containment, disaster response, provision of public health education and public health advice to health authorities and the government.9  

RACGP education is founded on ethical and socially responsible practice.

GPs and GPs in training are required to conduct themselves ethically, professionally and in a way that is consistent with the expectations of Australian society and the profession of general practice.10 Ethical medical practice is based on four principles: 11

  • respect for autonomy – the right of individuals to make their own decisions.  
  • beneficence – the duty to act in the best interests of the patient.  
  • non-maleficence – the duty to do no harm. 
  • justice – equity and fair distribution.  

Society expects particular professional characteristics and behaviours from GPs. These include trustworthiness, truthfulness, integrity, commitment to competency, commitment to patient safety, appropriate doctor–patient boundaries, confidentiality, compassion, respect for cultural differences, self-awareness and reflective practice.10,11 When healthcare does not go to plan, GPs are expected to acknowledge and learn from errors, create safe spaces for open dialogue about adverse events, and engage in honest, open disclosure.12 Learning how to respond to and learn from errors is an educational priority.13  

GPs have a social responsibility to provide the best possible care for patients and the community while considering cost-effective and equitable use of limited public resources. It is paramount that healthcare for those most disadvantaged is resourced.6 Local, state, and federal government health priorities inform this imperative. 

RACGP education promotes innovation in healthcare and general practice.

Healthcare practices need to constantly change and evolve for quality improvement and to meet the changing expectations and needs of patients, communities, and regulatory bodies. This means that evidence-based innovation is important for general practice and the healthcare it provides.14,15 The RACGP supports education that enables GPs and GPs in training to engage in innovative evolution of healthcare and the profession.6  

Innovations in digital technology are enabling more effective and equitable healthcare,14,15 particularly for isolated populations. RACGP education helps GPs and GPs in training to confidently adopt innovations in digital healthcare technology and be leaders in developing these innovations. 

RACGP education is founded on evidence-based best practice and strives to be a leader in medical education.

RACGP education is theoretically sound, and based on current scholarship in medical education.16,17 Two important areas of educational theorising are adult learning and work-based learning. Adult learning theory foregrounds the learner, with a focus on self-directed, experiential and reflective learning.18–20 Work-based learning theories foreground the workplace as a learning environment, focusing on work activity, the interface between the learner and the work community, and the identity development of the learner.21–23  

RACGP education uses competency- and outcomes-based education, with robust assessment methodologies that are fit for purpose.24–28 Assessment is both for learning and for privileging. In its use for privileging, it is clear, transparent, and equitable.29  

RACGP education recognises its international context. It contributes to the international advancement of general practice education, keeps abreast of advances beyond Australia, and supports research literacy and engagement in research. The RACGP directs a program of research to address educational problems and to inform the development of educational practice. Technological innovation is an important area of education research.  

Through evaluation, research, and innovation, the RACGP provides leadership in general practice education development in Australia and internationally. 

RACGP education values the skills of GP supervisors, educators, and researchers.

Sustainable delivery of high-quality education and healthcare depends on well-trained and supported GP supervisors, medical educators and researchers.30–32  

GPs with extended skills in supervision, medical education and research are crucial for ensuring a sustainable and skilled GP workforce.31 RACGP education supports development and use of educational and research skills. It also supports a career pathway for academic GPs.

RACGP education promotes professional and personal development and self-care throughout a GP’s career.

GPs require broad professional knowledge, skills, and attributes.6 All GPs require core skills in the areas of:  

  • communication and the patient–doctor relationship  
  • applied professional knowledge and skills  
  • population and public health  
  • organisation and leadership skills  
  • academic skills, including education and research  
  • working effectively with other professionals  
  • self-reflection and quality improvement.  

The community and the profession also require GPs with extended skills in these areas and skills in specialist areas such as military medicine, business management, healthcare policy, and health service planning and development.6 GPs need to maintain, improve and expand their expertise over the course of their career depending on the context of their work and on their interest. They need to be responsive to changing clinical, technological and community contexts.6,10 RACGP education helps GPs maintain and develop, throughout their career, expertise in core areas of practice, as well as expertise in specialised fields.  

General practice presents a challenging workplace environment where GPs can experience stress and isolation.33 RACGP education helps GPs and GPs in training adopt self-care habits, build resilience, attend to their physical and mental wellbeing through a healthy work–life balance, and develop effective and sustainable work environments and practices.34 

 

RACGP education enables GPs to meet the particular needs of those living in rural and remote regions.

The RACGP recognises the difficulty those living in rural and remote Australia can have in accessing healthcare. The GPs and GPs in training who work in rural and remote Australia also require specific resourcing to meet their educational needs. The RACGP prioritises education that helps meet the needs of patients living in rural and remote Australia, as well as provision of the educational resources needed by GPs and GPs in training who work in these areas.8  

There are particular challenges in meeting the healthcare needs of Australia’s rural and remote communities. These communities depend on GPs capable of meeting those challenges. This may require GPs to have skills extending into areas normally delegated to other specialties in metropolitan areas.35  

Currently, there is a maldistribution of GPs leading to a workforce shortage in rural and remote communities.35 Addressing this is a priority for the RACGP and RACGP education.8 RACGP education aims to provide the additional training and support needed to attract and enable GPs and GPs in training to learn and work effectively in rural and remote communities. 

RACGP education equips GPs to provide healthcare that meets the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The RACGP is committed to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the ‘Close the Gap’ initiative.36 It prioritises working collaboratively and effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to support the health of their peoples and communities in a way that is culturally safe and optimises their health outcomes.37  

RACGP education collaborates with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities in both educational programs and in identifying and prioritising health interventions for specific communities and contexts. GP cultural competency is essential, and cultural educators are a necessary and integral part of GP cultural competency training.30 The RACGP recognises that healthcare and education must draw on the strength and resilience present in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities today and needs to be developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.37  

The RACGP will therefore partner with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, health workers, cultural educators, and cultural mentors to design, deliver, assess and evaluate education related to holistic, person-centred healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Ongoing cultural competency education forms a key part of this, and all individuals and organisations are required to demonstrate that they can and will work in a way that is culturally safe, as defined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are also supported and enabled to train as GPs to address workforce inequity and increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs. The needs of GPs and GPs in training who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander are a priority of RACGP education, and appropriate support and resources are provided to these individuals. 

 

RACGP education meets the requirements of regulatory bodies.

The RACGP considers the education of GPs a social responsibility. Part of meeting this responsibility is addressing the priorities and requirements of local, state, and federal government regulatory bodies. Regulatory requirements inform RACGP education and help ensure it provides high-quality training that is responsive to community healthcare needs. Of particular consideration are the regulatory requirements prescribed by the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law that all training including continuing professional development be accredited by the Medical Board of Australia (MBA).38 The RACGP must meet the standards of the Australian Medical Council (AMC) to maintain accreditation for its fellowship pathways, educational programs and continuing professional development (CPD). It is also necessary for the continued statutory recognition of GPs as medical specialists and the assessment of international medical graduates for general practice.39,40 RACGP education supports GPs and GPs in training to understand and meet their responsibilities in complying with regulatory requirements. 

 

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