Formal recognition of rural generalists one step closer

Matt Woodley

17/10/2023 4:33:38 PM

Australia’s specialist general practice colleges are encouraging doctors to provide feedback on an application being assessed by the AMC.

Rural GP with patient
It is hoped formal recognition of rural generalism as its own specialty will improve health outcomes in regional and remote parts of Australia.

Public consultation on the second stage application to formally recognise Rural Generalist Medicine (RGM) as a specialist field is now open.
The latest phase in the process has been described as a critical milestone by the RACGP and Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM), which joined forces five years ago to help initiate the change.
If successful, RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said the efforts will help build a strong workforce and encourage focused research to improve rural generalist services.
‘Recognition will value the additional skills and scope provided by rural and remote doctors,’ she said.
‘It shows that as professional bodies, the colleges are committed to general practice, to rural and remote GPs and to the healthcare of rural and remote communities across Australia.’
Once national consultation closes on 12 December, the Australian Medical College (AMC) will draw on findings to collate a report and make a recommendation to the Medical Board of Australia.
This recommendation will then be passed on to the Health Minister’s Committee, which will make the final determination.
‘This is an exciting milestone in our five-year effort to seek RG [rural generalist] specialist recognition,’ ACRRM President Dr Dan Halliday said.
‘We encourage rural and remote GPs and rural generalists to review the application and provide input and feedback via the public consultation. We also encourage community members to participate.
With rural and remote areas currently receiving ‘significantly less’ government-supported services than people in cities, Dr Halliday is hopefully that RGM recognition will help bridge some of the divide.
‘It is expected that building the RG workforce will address the … $6.55 million underspend that currently exists,’ he said.
‘With recognition comes the opportunity to create a single national RG quality standard, which is transparent, safe, purpose-designed, and easily understood by systems, patients and doctors.’
The Rural Generalist Recognition Taskforce is chaired by National Rural Health Commissioner Adjunct Professor Ruth Stewart and include senior representatives from both the RACGP and ACRRM.
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Dr Olga Elizabeth Randa Ward   18/10/2023 5:20:02 PM

looking forward to some recognition of extended skillset within the rural hospitals AND in the general practice. There is at present nothing to tempt doctors to do the extra training if they get no tangible benefit or authority at the end. I'm very sick of people telling me either to "do it for the good of the patients" or to "just charge what I'm worth".
I can certainly do this for my procedural work- I bill on the standard hospital schedule per surgical procedure, but sessional GP anaesthetists deal with arguably more complex stuff with fewer resources and are paid less per session than the visiting single specialty anaesthetists. Ditto the sessional ED cover as an SMO (which you can get with a non RG fellowship) versus FACEM. Same oversight work, same responsibility and role, especially in smaller sites, significant pay difference. I won't even get started on mental health and internal medicine and paediatrics AST. What's it worth for those docs to pursue further training?