Published by Karen Stanton-Brown on February 28, 2020

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RACGP Summit, Alice Springs NT.
L to R Nick Williams-Acting CEO RACGP, Christine Cook, Dr Chris Buck-RG Consultant to GPEx, Dr Genevieve Yates- RACGP Medical Educator and Assoc Prof Ayman Shenouda-RACGP Vice President and Chair of RACGP Rural.

It has been a busy, yet exciting start to 2020.

In January the RACGP again confirmed that the College will partner with RTOs to deliver their training post 2021. The College is developing its 10 year GP-in-training vision and associated plan, and the transition of AGPT is one component of this vision. The College is committed to fully utilising the opportunity presented by the AGPT transition to further enhance the world-class AGPT program.

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Congratulations to Assoc Prof JIill Benson on her FACRRM, pictured here with Dr Ewen McPhee, President- ACRRM.

GPEx was also delighted to host ACRRM representatives in February to discuss training moving forward. ACRRM’s commitment to rural generalism was endorsed by Ministers Coulton and Hunt at an RDAA Rural Lunch in Parliament House, Canberra that I was invited to attend. 100 new rural generalist training positions have been funded by the Ministers to commence in 2021 and allocated to ACRRM. I very much look forward to working closely with ACRRM to support more opportunities for rural generalist training in SA, delivering additional services to our most disadvantaged communities. The GPEx team are attending the ACRRM Open House in May to discuss this in more detail.

GPEx commenced 2020 with 387 GP registrars working and training across SA, 149 on the rural pathway including 41 rural generalists and 238 on the general pathway. Balancing ACRRM and RACGP training obligations, Department of Health AGPT policy and workforce distribution has been challenging as our rural pathway registrar numbers have reduced. I sincerely thank our registrars, supervisors and practice managers for working closely with GPEx as we have considered the needs of all.

In February the RACGP held a GP Training Summit bringing together key stakeholders, including the Department of Health, to work collaboratively to develop and implement the highest quality GP training program; meeting the needs of GP registrars and supervisors and the medical workforce needs of communities. The first day of the Summit focussed entirely on remote and rural, examining the complex issue of declining interest in rural general practice as a career, and considering research, challenging perceptions and restating the evidence as we wrestled to develop strategies for short and long term solutions. Days two and three of the Summit commenced with an RTO Network/RACGP panel discussion setting the scene of a collaborative future relationship. I was delighted to represent the Regional Training Organisation Network on the panel and affirmed our commitment to working with the RACGP to ensure the smooth transition of training for our registrars, supervisors and practice managers. Whilst this is no easy task, I am absolutely confident that in SA my team and I have the experience and skills to ensure that this is completed with little disruption for anyone. We’ve done it before; just 4 years ago!

GPEx has again expanded its dedicated Rural Generalist Team – Drs Tom Ryan, Jill Benson, Cristina Valero, David Lam, Kari Sims, Lachy Mackinnon and Chris Buck, supported by Program Training Advisors Jane Longmire and Zoe Hubball.  This team is actively meeting with junior doctors in our hospitals, delivering education and information sessions to medical students and collaborating with the Rural Support Service to access Advanced Skills Training Posts. GPEx has undertaken a practice workforce needs analysis which forms the basis of our junior doctor and registrar career planning and mapping service.  GPEx Connect has also been updated to enable practices and training posts to provide additional information for registrars and fellowed GPs to better understand career and employment opportunities.

I was welcomed by the AMA Council of General Practice in February to present on behalf of the Regional Training Organisations on the AGPT program; its inception, its outcomes and opportunities for improvement. I think that you will agree that the AGPT program has delivered very significant outcomes across the country and continues to focus on our rural and remote placement of registrar in training.

We are so proud to share the most recent results of how our registrars are successfully passing their fellowship exams, and to boast a little that South Australia registrars results are comfortably ahead of the national average in most cases.

The results are in for the last exam cycle in 2019;

ACRRM: MCQ 100% pass

RACGP: AKT 87.5% pass, national average 77.53%. KFP 73.4% pass, national average 55.81%. OSCE 99.9% pass, national average 82.6%

GPEx Exam Collective platform, developed in-house by our technical and medical education teams, has quickly become the most actively used non-mandatory tool by our registrars! In fact, we have been approached by other RTOs to access the platform – which we will share. If you would like to find out more, please contact Angela Burden.

GPEx is currently collaborating with the Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) through an RACGP Education Research Grant to share GP Explore – our app integrated online tool that supports registrars to understand and reflect on their scope of patient presentations and the management and identify gaps for learning. GP Explore is also used to capture and report paediatric data – a paediatric log book is a requirement for RACGP and ACRRM. An updated version of the app is soon to be released that includes a procedural skills log, an optional tool for registrars. The procedural log will enable simple recording of procedures experienced and identification of skill gaps. This will be a useful tool for registrars and supervisors to plan learning. We are also working with West Australian GP Training (WAGPET) to share and implement GP Explore with their registrars.

A new cohort of RACGP Practice Experience Program doctors commenced with GPEx in January. These doctors are working in general practice with limited registration. GPEx Medical Educator Dr Danny Byrne provides tailored education and mentorship with the support of Ellen Mills, Program Training Advisor. The feedback from doctors on this program has been overwhelmingly positive and I also look forward to supporting the new group as they prepare for exams.

Our Medical Speciality Decision Making research for Minister Wade’s Rural Health Workforce Strategy Steering Committee was completed in January and is soon to be released. This research which included over 150 medical students, junior doctors and various medical specialty registrars provides insight into why junior doctors are not choosing rural general practice as a career. GPEx together with RSS will hold an information forum to present the findings – details to follow shortly.

At the February meeting of the GPEx board we adopted the 2019 Financial Statements, and I’m pleased to report that they show GPEx to be in good financial health. Internal benchmarking exercises conducted against the RTO sector regularly demonstrate that the GPEx AGPT model is one of the most cost-effective to have been developed in the last four years.

Our primary focus (and primary income source) continues to be the AGPT program, but GPEx also undertakes several complementary activities such as the PEP and research programs mentioned above. All have been selected because they reinforce the AGPT program in SA in one way or another, and all are independently costed and funded. GPEx uses leading-edge financial and information management systems to ensure a highly efficient and streamlined support structure for all of its service delivery, and continues to refine and improve these systems each year.

The GPEx team have commenced volunteering for 2020 with Kickstart for Kids. Every Wednesday during the school term two team members serve breakfast to students at Keller Road Primary School. It is a rewarding experience for all involved.

Today we launched the 2020 Great Place to Work Survey, which we have done for the past 3 years. The GPEx team will complete an online questionnaire about their experiences in the GPEx workplace. We use the results to enhance the way we work in order to ensure we maintain a great environment from which to deliver our programs and support to our stakeholders.

As always, feel free to get in touch with me if you wish to discuss anything mentioned above.

Best Regards

Christine