RACGP to offer Rural Generalist Fellowship from next year

Doug Hendrie

21/03/2019 2:59:33 PM

The new program is part of a national push to ensure rural and remote Australia has enough highly trained GPs.

Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda
RACGP Vice President Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda welcomes the new Fellowship.

The new Rural Generalist Fellowship has been designed to be well supported and flexible, allowing junior doctors to enter and exit the training at different stages of their careers.
RACGP Vice President and Chair of RACGP Rural, Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda, said the new Fellowship will encourage GPs to work in areas of Australia that have long struggled to attract and keep appropriately trained GPs.
‘Many regional and rural areas of Australia are in desperate need of GPs. These towns are struggling to attract junior doctors, registrars and GPs from the city to their community,’ he said.
‘The evidence is clear that doctors who train and upskill in a rural or remote setting tend to remain in a rural or remote setting caring for their patients.’
Associate Professor Shenouda said the fact rural and remote Australia presents unique challenges for GPs, specific rural training is essential.
‘Often rural GPs are the only medical practitioners available to support their community, so we must be thoroughly trained in the full scope of medicine that our patients will require, such as emergency medicine, mental health, obstetrics, palliative care or paediatrics,’ he said.
The Rural Generalist Fellowship will also be accessible to current GPs who want to acquire new skills or have their existing skills recognised by the RACGP. Associate Professor Shenouda said this is to allow currently practising GPs to be able to better address the changing needs of their rural and remote communities, by upskilling in areas such as mental health or palliative care.
The Rural Generalist Fellowship is seen as a vital step forward by the RACGP, and was a decision made after consultation with its rural members and GP training organisations.
‘I would like to acknowledge the support of the National Rural Health Commissioner, Professor Paul Worley, and the President of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine [ACRRM] Associate Professor Ewen McPhee, as well as all members of the Rural Generalist Taskforce in developing the National Rural Generalist Pathway, which is now in its implementation phase with strategies to retain doctors working in the bush,’ Associate Professor Shenouda said.
‘Adequate remuneration and recognition are essential elements of their recommendations.’
The RACGP will continue to work in collaboration with ACRRM and other specialist medical colleges to ensure future rural doctors are well supported and adequately skilled to address the health needs of Australia’s rural and remote communities.
Transition processes will be developed for experienced GPs and those who already hold a Fellowship in Advanced Rural General Practice (FARGP), or experienced rural GPs who hold Fellowship of the RACGP (FRACGP).
The new Fellowship comes after last year’s historic Collingrove Agreement between the RACGP and ACCRM, which defines a rural generalist as:
A medical practitioner who is trained to meet the specific current and future healthcare needs of Australian rural and remote communities, in a sustainable and cost-effective way, by providing both comprehensive general practice and emergency care, and required components of other medical specialist care in hospital and community settings as part of a rural healthcare team.

rural fellowship rural generalism rural generalist rural health workforce shortage

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Dr Daniel Thomas Byrne   22/03/2019 8:13:19 AM

Congratulations Ayman. I’m a city GP but I have the highest respect and admiration of my rural GP colleagues. I have no problem with rural GPs receiving extra rewards for such hard work and long hours.

Dr George Al-horani   22/03/2019 8:33:32 AM

It’s a good initiative to recognise and encourage doctors to work in Rural areas , but also As it is difficult to attract doctors to work in Rural areas as it is difficult to attract doctors to work in Sydney West and South West !
I hope all these new regulations will not force us to close out after hours clinics by not able to employ doctors to work in city areas by forcing them all to move Rural through the new visa regulations !

Craig   22/03/2019 10:47:38 AM

A recommendation for adequate remuneration is great but haven't the RACGP be recommending adequate remuneration for all GPs for some time now? I love the initiative but I don't see the government increasing medicare rebates for these largely bulk billed rural areas any time soon.

Dr Christopher David Mitchell, AM   22/03/2019 12:40:13 PM

Great work Ayman and to all the team at RACGP Rural and great collaboration with ACRRM too

Clem   28/03/2019 10:40:11 PM

This is great news. However, as a travelling locum there is nothing I see that refers to the Rural Generalist plan including rural locums; only talk about reducing reliance on locums (which I agree with). Good rural locums will however remain essential and we need our educational and other needs as rural generalist locums to be explicitly acknowledged in this Rural Generalist programme.