Professional support over the general practice continuum

Morgan Liotta

12/06/2020 2:32:23 PM

The RACGP’s new remediation suite provides guidance for managing performance concerns at any stage of a general practice career.

Display of guidelines
The guides offer comprehensive advice relating to each stage where a GP might require support throughout their career.

As with most professions, performance management and self-care are important areas to monitor within a general practice career.
The RACGP has developed a suite of remediation resources comprising five guides, designed to provide a comprehensive overview of effective management and how to address concerns for general practice registrars, international medical graduates and GPs.
A guideline for re-entry into general practice covering mental health and self-care is also included.
Dr George Zaharias, a GP with a special interest in remediation and medical educator with the RACGP, led the development of the suite. He told newsGP that identity is a fundamental part of career progression that affects workplace behaviour and wellbeing.
‘The professional life of a GP commences in medical school, where the foundations of medicine are laid and one’s identity as a doctor comes into being,’ he said.
‘This identity grows and is continually shaped along the path leading to Fellowship and continuing beyond it.
‘Identity as a doctor is inextricably connected to personal identity [which] strongly influences how a GP practises and behaves professionally, and how their values are reconciled with the expectations of the community, the medical profession and the regulatory bodies.’
A GP’s identity can take unexpected turns or be interrupted at various points during their career, according to Dr Zaharias. This can sometimes occur by choice or due to unforeseen situations, and is where the importance of performance management falls in to place.
‘There are two types of issues that a GP might be faced with at any time in their working life: clinical capability – performance concerns – and illness and disability,’ Dr Zaharias said.
‘Time away from practice, whether by choice or enforced, also has implications for clinical capability. Skills can deteriorate in that time away, and return to practice may prove to be more difficult than anticipated.
‘A GP finding themselves in any of these circumstances would benefit from support.’
Dr Zaharias hopes this is where the remediation suite can help navigate that support.
With the exception of A guide to re-entry to general practice, the resources are primarily for medical educators and supervisors who are managing performance concerns in each area:

  • A guide to managing performance concerns in general practice registrars – for doctors in a general practice training program
  • Practice Experience Program (PEP): Remediator guide – for GPs working towards attaining Fellowship but not in a training program, either in the PEP or on their own
  • A guide to understanding and managing performance concerns in international medical graduates – for GPs who have trained overseas and who are in the PEP or a general practice training program
  • A guide to performance management and support for general practitioners – for any practising GP or doctor in training, or practice manager to manage performance concerns that may bring them to the attention of Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), and to improve clinical practice and processes
The guide to re-entry is targeted to individual GPs intending to take time away from practice or planning to return to practice. Dr Zaharias says that while general practice registrars in this position will generally be assisted by their training organisation, much of the information in this guide is also relevant to them.
‘Performance concerns may arise at any stage, from the GP early in training to the Fellowed GP with many years of experience,’ he said.
‘How performance concerns are addressed will depend on the GP’s stage in their career path.’
GPs may take time away from practice for various reasons, including personal and family issues, illness or injury, travel, or disciplinary action by the Medical Board of Australia.
The re-entry guide identifies the challenges GPs may face when returning to practice, such as updating their knowledge and skills, and adopting changes like new technologies and guidelines. Depending on individual circumstances, there may also be a degree of apprehension about returning to work.
Dr Zaharias says the health and wellbeing of the GP underpins all stages in their career, and stress can have significant implications for wellbeing and clinical performance.
‘For these reasons, the importance of self-care cannot be emphasised enough,’ he said.
The full suite of remediation guides is available on the RACGP website.
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