Honouring achievement in rural general practice

Morgan Liotta

7/12/2021 3:02:38 PM

RACGP Rural has announced the four recipients of its annual awards.

Headshots of four award winners
L−R: Dr Khean Shang Wong, Dr Mubashar Sherazi, Dr Richard Mayes, Sophie Witherspoon.

‘This year’s rural award winners have truly gone above and beyond in caring for their patients and contributing to their communities, and show great promise for their careers in general practice.’
That is RACGP Rural Chair, Dr Michael Clements, congratulating the newly announced 2021 winners of the RACGP Rural Awards.
‘The RACGP Rural Awards are an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the rural GPs working hard to care for communities across Australia,’ Dr Clements said.
The annual awards recognise the outstanding achievements of individuals working in rural communities for their contribution to general practice.
The winners of the 2021 RACGP Rural Awards are:

Brian Williams Award
Dr Richard Mayes has been recognised for his contribution to medical education across all levels of training and among his peers. This includes teaching registrars and medical students, as well as providing ongoing support to his colleagues and local community.
Dr Mayes said he is honoured to receive the award.
‘I am passionate about medical education, particularly rural obstetric care. As a rural GP I know how important these services are to rural communities,’ he said.
‘I believe in a holistic approach to health, considering the whole-person, rather than treating symptoms in isolation.
‘This is why for many years I’ve been involved in a local dance group, and I’ve encouraged a number of my older patients to join the program, not only for the physical health benefits but also for their mental health and wellbeing.’
The Brian Williams Award commemorates the work of Dr Brian Williams, rural GP, medical educator and long-time advocate for advances in rural general practice and medical education.
Rural GP in Training of the Year
Dr Mubashar Sherazi was the first doctor recruited to Mallacoota, Victoria, under a targeted recruitment strategy, in which communities with a high need for medical workforce receive recruitment support.
‘Before I came to Mallacoota in 2018, there was only one very hard-working female GP at Mallacoota Medical Practice, and there was far too much work for just one GP,’ Dr Sherazi said.
‘I have really enjoyed my time here and responding to the needs of our community – for example, I enrolled in adolescent and child health training after recognising the community really needs these services.’
Dr Sherazi completed his general practice training exams in early 2020, just weeks after being evacuated from the 2019 summer bushfires in Mallacoota.
In addition to having a strong commitment to a career in rural general practice and serving his community, Dr Sherazi has an interest in medical education.
‘I’m very passionate about medical education and recently published my first book on the topic, which I hope will help to guide and support the next generation of GPs in training, like me,’ he said.
Rural Medical Student Bursary Award
Third-year medical student Sophie Witherspoon has been awarded for her essay on how to attract and retain medical graduates in rural practice.
Studying through the University of Melbourne’s Extended Rural Cohort Program in Mansfield, Ms Witherspoon chose to write the essay because of the current relevance to rural and remote communities experiencing GP workforce shortages.
‘As a rural student I feel the need to showcase my perspective – this is an issue not only relevant to rural GPs and our communities, but also politicians who have the power to make the changes we need,’ she said.
‘We really need to do more to invest in attracting and retaining rural and remote GPs, because there is a huge need in many communities, and it’s having a very real impact on patients, as well as the workload for GPs who are there.’
Community Project of the Year Award
Dr Khean Shang Wong is recipient of the award for his innovative project on the treatment of parasitic worms in the Kimberley region in Western Australia.
‘Parasitic worms may not be a popular topic, but it is a serious health issue in the Kimberley region, and anyone can get it,’ Dr Wong said.
Dr Wong is proud to receive the award, which recognises his project as directly contributing to healthcare improvement and positively impacting the local community.
‘I recognised part of the problem where I work was a lack of community awareness,’ he said.
‘There are simple steps people can take in terms of prevention and treatment, so I put together posters to help raise awareness across the region, as well as clear guidelines for managing parasites, which have been really useful for patients.’
Dr Clements said that this year’s winners showcase the diversity of rural healthcare and those going above and beyond to support their community.
‘Rural GPs couldn’t be more deserving of the spotlight. They are essential for the health and wellbeing of rural communities, and they are in turn truly valued by their communities,’ he said.
‘As a rural GP myself, I know what entices medical graduates to go rural.
‘It’s a uniquely varied and rewarding career, no one day is the same, and you really get to know your patients and provide long-term holistic care, which general practice is all about.’
More information about the RACGP Rural Awards and past winners are available on the RACGP website.
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Dr Daniel Thomas Byrne   8/12/2021 7:52:49 AM

Congratulations to the awesome foursome. A great bunch of inspiring doctors - and student.