RACGP promises flexibility for GPs in training during pandemic

Doug Hendrie

25/03/2020 4:16:30 PM

The college recognises that the ongoing coronavirus outbreak poses serious challenges to GPs in training.

Dr Krystyna de Lange
Flexibility is key, according to Dr Krystyna de Lange, Chair of the RACGP’s National Faculty for GPs in Training.

For GPs in training, the coronavirus poses a range of new challenges.
How can they navigate training, work, exams and Australia’s increasing lockdown?

There is no simple answer but, from the RACGP’s point of view, flexibility and leniency in the training program will be key.
Dr Krystyna de Lange, Chair of the new National Faculty for GPs in Training, told newsGP that the college has been working hard with the Department of Health (DoH) and Regional Training Organisations (RTOs) to find flexible solutions to training and assessment.
‘We want to try to minimise any impact that the coronavirus pandemic is having on trainees,’ she said.
To date, the changes have been:

  • DoH approval of leniency around training time caps
  • delays to upcoming exams
  • ensuring delayed exams do not impact on time caps or exam attempt limits.
The National Faculty for GPs in Training is also working to find ways that training and educational activities can still be delivered without face-to-face options, or to offer make up sessions as necessary.
Leniency will be in place for general practice registrars who need to complete life support skills training or other programs, since many are being cancelled by providers.
For external clinical teaching visits, measures are being put in place to ensure registrars will not be unfairly disadvantaged if they have to be rescheduled or cancelled for the time being.
‘We will be flexible around what counts as training. For instance, if people are eligible to do telehealth consultations through their practice, we will be happy to count that as part of training,’ Dr de Lange said.
‘In general, there will be leniency around what we will accept in terms of training requirements. We want to ensure people aren’t disadvantaged by something out of their control.
‘The RACGP has had to act very quickly in this space to adjust policy and it has evolved very quickly over the last two weeks, liaising with the DoH, RTOs and other key bodies.’
GPs in training may also need to take additional leave during the pandemic, whether coronavirus-related or personal.
‘We are mindful of the fact people may need to take leave out of their control, whether through contact with a positive case or symptoms of a respiratory illness, even if it’s not coronavirus,’ Dr de Lange said.
Although the leave discussion had not been finalised, Dr de Lange said, there will be considerable leniency.
The RACGP looking for ways registrars in isolation could still undertake training through the newly expanded telehealth and telephone consultation options, self-directed learning and extra leave entitlements.
A new wellbeing committee is being formed for GPs in training to deal with the longer-term implications of the pandemic.
‘We’re acknowledging that this is a very stressful time for registrars and trainees. Even if you took out the coronavirus, a specialist training program brings a lot of sacrifices and strain,’ Dr de Lange said.
‘Now there’s the pressure of training, study and being a frontline healthcare worker during the pandemic. You have to stay on top of changing information, changing service models and uncertainty around training models.
‘They’re carrying a lot of uncertainty around how to manage this at work and the risks they face. So there is a culmination of stresses on GPs in training and we are very mindful of that.
‘This doesn’t just impact on progression through training, but people’s lives in general. You can’t go out with friends and debrief face-to-face. Their whole lives are changing.
‘We want to support GPs in training as much as we can.’
The voice of GPs in training is being considered in all decisions made around training.
‘We do have that voice,’ Dr de Lange said. ‘We have been heavily involved in all the decision-making.’
For updated information, GPs in training can check the RACGP website for changes to exams and training, as well as frequently asked questions about the changes.
Questions, queries and feedback on the changes can be sent to
The RACGP has more information on coronavirus available on its website.

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