Calls for medical educators to take part in ‘shared vision’ of PLT

Morgan Liotta

23/11/2022 4:23:09 PM

The recruitment of medical educators will make up a large part of the RACGP’s transition to profession-led training.

James Brown on his farm
‘I start the day early with a time of reflection … I also have lots of adventures’: Associate Professor James Brown at his farm in Gippsland, Victoria.

When Adjunct Associate Professor James Brown was a child, he had ambitions of becoming a firefighter and a scientist, plus a list of initiatives he would one day take as Australia’s Prime Minister.
While Associate Professor Brown eventually followed a different career path – that does not mean he hasn’t lived out his dreams.
A Fellow of both the RACGP and Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, and Member of the Order of Australia for ‘services to medical education and the community’, Associate Professor Brown is the college’s current Principal Medical Educator.
However, true to his trailblazing spirit, he is also due to embark on a fresh journey as the college’s National Director of Training, taking up the brand new role from February 2023 in line with the transition to profession-led training (PLT).
The new position will provide medical educator leadership for RACGP vocational training pathways, and Associate Professor Brown told newsGP he is looking forward to working with the teams who will be training doctors to become Australia’s next GPs.
‘I am very excited about the opportunity to be part of the next chapter of general practice vocational training,’ he said.
‘I believe that college-led training will offer an environment that will enable many new developments for Australian general practice training, enabling it to continue to address the changing challenges and needs of primary care for the Australian community.’
Before joining the RACGP in 2020 to fulfill a goal to be part of college-led training, Associate Professor Brown was Director of Training for Gippsland General Practice Training Program in Victoria, and was close to completing a PhD in the area of general practice training.
Over the past 20 years, his research has helped to inform the evolution of general practice training, with the recent completion of his PhD at Monash University exploring the identity development of GPs in training and the supervisory relationship’s role in supporting this journey.
In 2021, he was appointed as an Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor with Monash Rural Health Gippsland, alongside roles as a practice owner and supervisor at a general practice in rural Victoria, where he has lived with his family for over 30 years.
Being part of the rural landscape, supporting his community and keeping active on his hobby farm is what drives Associate Professor Brown – and what has led him to stay.
‘As a GP, I have been part of many shared significant events with patients and families, and these become part of my ongoing connection with them,’ he said.
‘I like people, I want to make a contribution to the world, and I seek challenges.’
The huge task of preparing GPs in training to meet community needs will also see Associate Professor Brown attempt to address workforce distribution issues and support high-quality general practice, while also recruiting new roles to support the transition to PLT.
He believes that medical educators are vital to training the next generation of GPs by providing support through a ‘collaborative, consultative and enabling’ approach.
‘The shared objective of high-quality general practice training is the primary imperative and we need a shared vision of this,’ Associate Professor Brown said. 
‘There are many parallels in the work of general practice and being a leader. As a clinician, a GP needs to take leadership in sense-making with their patients and enable them to realise their chosen direction.
‘It’s important to start from a position of trust: trust that registrars want to be excellent clinicians; trust that supervisors want the best for their registrars; and trust that educators and program staff care about training.’
And for junior doctors beginning their general practice training journey – his advice is straight forward.
‘Make sure you establish supportive professional relationships as you train and maintain these after Fellowing,’ he said.
‘Being invited into the lives of our patients is an extraordinary privilege, treasure this.’
As part of the transition to profession-led training, the RACGP will continue to announce leaders appointed to the Senior Management Team of the training program. Current medical educator opportunites are listed here, and more information is available on the RACGP website.
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