Dr Kate Davey contacted RACGP Victoria Chair Dr Anita Munoz about succession planning challenges in her local Wangaratta community. Having just heard about the Practice to Practice program pilot, Anita and Kate started discussions on how this might be able to work in Wangaratta. Kate emailed the local council to let them know she needed some help and, together, they’ve started work on a program to build community connections and support local GPs.
Dr Kate Davey has worked as a rural GP in Wangaratta for 38 years. She’s been thinking about retirement but there is no one that wants to take a job in her local community, and she doesn’t want to leave her patients without someone to look after them. Wangaratta in Victoria and many other rural areas face difficulty in attracting and retaining GPs for many varied and complex reasons. The solutions are not straight forward and simple and involve many considerations for both the person, their partner and family -including the infrastructure of the regions, family support, partner employment, education opportunities, engaging extracurricular activities and dispelling rural myths and misconceptions.
Kate and Anita believe that it’s about developing people's connection with communities and developing communities to support our GPs. To do this we must reduce the barriers for clinicians going rural by making all of the information they need to know more accessible and offering them personalised support. It’s important to dispel some of the myths about rural general practice, show candidates what rural general practice is really like and prove to them that they’re going to get some good support.
Having been in Wangaratta for many years, Kate had an existing relationship with the local council, and they’ve been very receptive to working together to find a solution.
A few initial meetings have been held with regular meetings planned. The council is setting up a process to canvas all the practices in the area to get an idea of what the workforce needs are.
In addition to this, they’re working on building a concierge service to provide an accessible package of information and resources, including:
- A personalised orientation to get a better sense of the GP’s needs and give them the chance to get to know the practice, the town and the community
- An information pack on local schools
- An information pack on what’s available in the region – from wine and skiing to mountain biking
- A community buddy system where a GP and their family are matched with a similar local family
- Accommodation support to provide less of a financial hit - whether access to cheaper housing or a discount partnership with private providers
- Funding and grants for upskilling to help gain additional skills to meet community needs
- A skills assessment process to help determine if additional skills are needed to take on the job and help identify metro GP needs.
They’re recruiting a range of organisations and community members who’ve got something to contribute to make up this service. Each of the barriers faced can be addressed, not all by one organisation, but with a cooperation between people with a vested interest in this.
- The service will help showcase the opportunities available and dispel myths about rural general practice
- GPs, and their families, will gain additional support to work in a rural or remote community, from both colleagues and their community
- Students, GPs in Training and Fellows will have access to upskilling opportunities, can see new things and make a difference to health inequities
- Multiple barriers or problems can be addressed by a cooperation of people with a vested interest to achieve a common goal.
Consider the local, state or territory relationships that you already have and how you might be able to work together on a solution. Think about the relationships that you could build with stakeholders that share a common interest. Take the first step to reach out to them and start a conversation.