More junior doctors opting for rural generalism

Paul Hayes

10/09/2020 1:04:03 PM

Applications for the RACGP’s Rural Generalist Pathway are on the rise.

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The Rural Generalist Pathway is designed to equip GPs with ‘a broader scope of skills to enable them to meet the unique demands of working in smaller communities’.

More GPs in training are heading down the path to become specialists in rural and remote general practice.
To date, there has been a 40% rise in junior doctors choosing Australian General Practice Training – Rural Generalist (AGPT RG), compared to applications for 2020 training.
The increase comes after the RACGP introduced more flexible training earlier this year. Working with the Department of Health, the RACGP secured a change to the AGPT RG policy so GPs in training are no longer locked into the choice they made at the start of their training – they can opt out of, or into, the Rural Generalist Pathway later in their training.
Introduced in 2018, the pathway is specialist training for rural general practice. It is designed to equip GPs with ‘a broader scope of skills to enable them to meet the unique demands of working in smaller communities’.
‘People living in rural and remote areas tend to rely on their GPs for the majority of their health and wellbeing needs, with the nearest specialist or hospital often a long way away,’ RACGP Rural Chair Dr Michael Clements said.
‘This means there is great reward and variety for GPs working in these communities, but they do need a broader range of skills. You need to be ready for anything and everything; you could be supporting a patient with mental health concerns in the morning, and managing a medical emergency in the afternoon.   
‘This is where Rural Generalist training comes in – it provides advanced skills in a range of areas such as obstetrics and gynaecology, anaesthetics and emergency medicine, as well as mental health, palliative care and adult internal medicine.
‘Those undertaking this training do so in rural and remote locations, so they get a real taste of what it’s like to work as a rural GP and live in a community, and all the benefits professional and personal.’
According to Dr Clements, the more flexible approach to training ‘recognises the reality that during four years of training life circumstances change, relationships happen, marriages, children, people might need to move to another area’.
‘One of the reasons the RACGP advocated strongly for this change was to help get more GPs with advanced skills out in rural and remote communities where they are needed.
‘It’s greatly encouraging to see the increase in junior doctors applying for Rural Generalist training this year.’
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