A visit to western NSW by Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) GP leaders has strengthened links between the College and local training and GP organisations.
National Deputy Director of Training – Rural Pathways Dr Karin Jodlowski-Tan met with local training and stakeholder organisations in Broken Hill over 28-30 March to discuss rural GP and Rural Generalist training pathways and identify approaches to support GPs to train in the region and stay to work in towns in the west of the state.
Dr Jodlowski-Tan also visited local training facilities including the Far West Regional Training Hub of the Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health and the Royal Flying Doctors Service’s (RFDS) Broken Hill Base and co-hosted a member meet-up for RACGP members and rural health stakeholders with NSW and ACT Deputy Chair Dr Rebekah Hoffman, who was in town working with the RFDS.
Dr Jodlowski-Tan said the visit has been an opportunity to deepen the relationship between the RACGP, the Royal Flying Doctors Service, the local GP practices, and the Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health.
“As the largest regional centre in western NSW for rural medicine and the home to a key Royal Flying Doctors Service base, Broken Hill plays an important role in keeping people in rural New South Wales safe and healthy,” she said.
“Visiting Broken Hill at the invitation of the Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health provided an opportunity to understand the opportunities for rural medical workforce training pathways to support the delivery of healthcare to rural and regional communities.
“We know when people gain experience in rural communities, they are significantly more likely to put down roots and stay in those communities. Rural training leads to rural GPs, who are essential to the health and wellbeing of their communities.
“This visit has laid the groundwork for continuing collaboration between the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the local collaborative of Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health, the Royal Flying Doctors Service and the local GP clinics for GP training, as well as other non-GP rural generalist training pathways, and we hope to build on that in future.”
The visit was also an opportunity to expand opportunities for Rural Generalist GP training.
Launched in July 2022, the RACGP’s Rural Generalist (RG) Fellowship is designed to equip GPs with the additional skills that rural and remote communities most need including emergency medicine, obstetrics, mental health, palliative care. It replaced the Fellowship in Advance Rural General Practice (FARGP).
The RG Fellowship is awarded in addition to the Fellowship of the RACGP, reflecting the additional training that Rural Generalists have completed. Doctors training to become specialist GPs can complete an RG Fellowship alongside their GP vocational training, and the fellowship is also available to practicing GPs.
RACGP Rural Chair Associate Professor Michael Clements said the RACGP is committed to working with rural health organisations to ensure access to general practice care.
“As a rural GP myself, I know what draws GPs to go rural – it’s a rich and rewarding career, with endless possibilities,” he said.
“You become a valued part of your community, and really get to know your patients. The scope in rural practice is also truly unique. No one day is the same, you might have to attend to an emergency, a birth, support someone with mental health concerns or a chronic condition.
“Increasing the number of highly trained GPs in rural and remote communities is a key priority for the RACGP. We are committed to offering training that meets the changing workforce needs in Australia’s rural and remote communities. Our Rural Generalist Fellowship and additional rural skills training pathway is central to achieving this.”
RACGP Rural is collaborating with state and territory faculties to host member meetups across the country that bring medical students, registrars, GPs and rural health stakeholders together and provide the opportunity to connect with the RACGP and share the issues affecting them on the ground in our rural and remote communities.