Practice to Practice program to boost access to national GP care

Michael Clements

1/03/2021 4:02:41 PM

RACGP Rural Chair Dr Michael Clements on how connecting practices and GPs across Australia can make a big difference.

A group of GPs talking.
Practices and GPs will share skills and support, as well as maximise services for patients across Australia.

We know that rural Australia faces serious GP workforce shortages.
At the same time, there are GPs who would like to support rural locations more – be it through regular rural placements or telehealth support – but do not feel they have the connections or confidence to do so.
To help bridge this gap, the RACGP has launched an innovative pilot program that will aim to connect practices and GPs in diverse geographical areas to help grow locum pools, increase peer support, enhance professional development and provide a greater service offering for patients.
In doing so, the Practice to Practice pilot program (running from 1 March–31 December) should improve access and quality of care for patients, particularly those in rural and remote communities.
During this time, urban practices and GPs will match with their counterparts in rural and remote Australia to share skills and support, and maximise quality services for patients across the country.
But how will this help GPs in the city?
Well, the program encourages GPs to go beyond their everyday, and try life and work in a different practice setting.
As a GP who visits remote towns myself, I know the valuable experiences we can offer our colleagues in the city, especially as rural GPs consistently report high job satisfaction, rewarding community connection and enjoyment from a diverse scope of practice.
The Practice to Practice pilot program will also expose GPs to the challenges and benefits of living in a different area. This is significant because the research has shown that GPs who gain exposure to work and life in a rural community are more likely to choose to go rural permanently.
Ultimately, we want to improve access to high quality general practice care nationwide.
We also know that these arrangements work. There have been practices doing it in different ways across the country for many years, and their patients and communities are reaping the benefits.
That’s why the RACGP has taken this step to create a national pilot program recognising and sharing these types of arrangements, so more practices and communities can benefit. It’s a simple solution that can make a big difference.
Practices and GPs can register their interest to be involved via the RACGP website. Once accepted, they will be able to connect and match with others in the pilot to tackle challenges together and share successes.
Though the program is designed to link practices, it can also help individual GPs connect with a practice in a different area.
As Australia’s largest professional general practice organisation representing urban, rural and remote GPs, the RACGP is perfectly placed to facilitate these connections; prior to the launch, more than 40 practices and GPs had already submitted expressions of interest.
Whether you are based in an urban, regional, rural or remote area, the program has benefits for you, your team and your community. But, places for the pilot program are limited, so I would advise you to register quickly.
The college will facilitate the pilot program, by providing guidelines and resources for building the relationship between partner practices, recommending training courses for upskilling, and promoting the program among our membership of more than 41,000 GPs in urban, rural, and remote Australia.
Go beyond your postcode, your practice, your comfort zone and your everyday with Practice to Practice.
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