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Calling GPs in training


Doug Hendrie


11/05/2020 4:10:08 PM

After launching last year, the RACGP’s new National Faculty for GPs in Training has moved rapidly to offer support and advocacy.

GP in training
Trainees have been in the deep end with the coronavirus pandemic – but the new GPs in Training Faculty is offering support and advocacy.

Faculty representatives are now calling for all eligible GPs in training – including those up to five years’ post-Fellowship – to consider joining by 18 May, to allow them to vote in this year’s inaugural faculty election.
 
For newly Fellowed GP Dr Ashlea Broomfield, the faculty is playing a vital role in making the at-times challenging path for GPs in training a little easier, especially during the pandemic.
 
‘We can’t put roads down on the whole world to make sure we don’t get spiked by bindies, but we can put shoes on,’ she told newsGP. ‘There are some things out of our control, but there are some we can do to give people more agency and understanding of what they can do.
 
‘Trainees during this time are learning a lot of stuff they haven’t learned in their whole career – new medicine, system change, a complete revolution on how we deliver medical care [via telehealth]. But, at the same time, there’s personal, professional and society-wide pressure, because GPs are playing a pivotal role during the pandemic. That means a lot of pressure for individuals.
 
‘That means a lot of trainees are learning how to function not only in a high-stress environment, but a high-stress community, country and world, while being there for their families.’
 
For rural registrar and Tasmanian representative Dr Samantha Wyton, who works in the small town of Cygnet, involvement in the faculty has been vital as a way to advocate for GPs in training.
 
‘The main benefit for us is that we can provide opinions on policy and that it’s a point of contact for registrars and GPs in training in general,’ she said.
 
‘We rely on the information from members [to do so], so that’s why it’s important that our representation is as varied as possible.’
 
National Faculty for GPs in Training Northern Territory observer Dr Catherine Pendrey was keen to get involved to ensure trainees in the NT had their voices heard. At the inaugural election for faculty council roles later this year, the observer position will be upgraded to a full representative role.  
 
‘While the NT provides incredible and unique training experiences, working in very remote locations can also pose challenges. We need to support GPs in training to have long, rewarding and sustainable careers in the NT, and especially remote areas,’ she said.
 
‘General practice is a wonderful career, but GPs in training can encounter all manner of personal and professional challenges during their training.
 
‘COVID-19 has really brought those issues to the fore. A lot of trainees have been managing social isolation, home schooling, changing workplace environments and public health measures, as well as changes to training and assessments.
 
‘It’s a stressful time, so it’s critical that there is a network that is able to provide feedback on the experiences of GPs in training in regions across Australia so that responses to these issues reflect the reality of their experiences.’
 
Dr Pendrey wants the new faculty to be an inclusive space for GPs in training to connect and work together.
 
‘Stronger and broader representation has the potential to strengthen the structural focus on wellbeing, continue to drive quality in training and inform the response to emerging challenges,’ she said.
 
‘The transitions to college-led training and rural generalism are key training issues, alongside broader community health challenges such as COVID-19 and climate change.’
 
All GPs in training are invited to become members of the new faculty, with a membership drive under way until 18 May.
 
‘Becoming a member of the new faculty will allow trainees and New Fellows to be part of a community and stay informed about current issues affecting us within and beyond the RACGP,’ Dr Pendrey said.
 
In response to the stresses placed on GPs in training as frontline workers during the pandemic, the RACGP has started a GPiT Support COVID Response Group as a subcommittee of the RACGP Expert Committee – Pre Fellowship Education (REC–PFE), chaired by Dr Broomfield and with National Faculty for GPs in Training  representation.
 
This group has just launched a wellbeing calendar, with a different activity to try each day as a way to help GPs de-stress, as well as a portal with many wellbeing resources.
 
‘We created a 30-day calendar which people could choose to do each day to check in on how they were going, outside of the coronavirus,’ Dr Broomfield said. ‘It includes different ways to reconnect to themselves and other people, and to the world outside their consult.’
 
The goal was not to overwhelm GPs in training with one more item for their to-do list, but to give suggestions to explore, if they seem appealing, with links embedded in the calendar to make it easier to access activities.
 
‘You might pick one thing and do it for the whole week, or try a new thing every day,’ Dr Broomfield said.
 
Looking to the future, Dr Broomfield said the new faculty will create a series of videos for navigating challenging situations, focusing on conflict resolution, personal safety, and more.
 
Membership of the National Faculty for GPs in Training is free and open to:

  • medical students and pre-vocational doctors interested in general practice training
  • any doctor on a recognised pathway towards Fellowship of the RACGP
  • New Fellows within five years of Fellowship.
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