The birth of a career in general practice research

Amanda Lyons

13/09/2018 4:39:03 PM

Dr Jo-Anne Manski-Nankervis reflects on how her AGPT academic post led to a PhD and successful career in general practice research.

Dr Jo-Anne Manski-Nankervis got started on a successful general practice research career with an AGPT academic post.
Dr Jo-Anne Manski-Nankervis got started on a successful general practice research career with an AGPT academic post.

Dr Jo-Anne Manski-Nankervis started her academic career on the laboratory side of medicine, but a desire for more human interaction sparked a decision to change cities and degree majors.
‘I undertook a science degree after I finished year 12,’ she told newsGP.
‘After finishing Honours, in which I spent 12 months doing gene sequencing in the area of malaria, I decided I wanted to get out of the lab and be involved in patient care.
‘I moved from Darwin to Melbourne and undertook my medical degree at the University of Melbourne.’
A ‘fantastic’ mentor in general practice inspired Dr Manski-Nankervis to become a GP in her final year of medical school, and she applied for the Australian General Practice Training Program (AGPT) as an intern.
It was during her first placement at Dianella Community Health in the outskirts of Melbourne that she received an email about applications for academic posts through the AGPT and decided to talk the opportunity over with one of her GP colleagues at the clinic.
‘That person was Professor Doris Young, who was Professor of General Practice at the University of Melbourne,’ Dr Manski-Nankervis said. ‘She encouraged me to apply and the rest is history.
‘I started my first academic post in 2010 and progressed to PhD student, lecturer and now Senior Lecturer in Primary Care in the Department of General Practice, as well as postdoctoral researcher for the OPUS CRE [Centre for Research Excellence] in Joint Replacement at the Department of Surgery at St Vincent’s Hospital.’
Dr Manski-Nankervis has found her research career to be very rewarding, and hopes her work will contribute to the improvement of general practice care.
‘I’ve had opportunities to work across a lot of different areas with lots of different GPs and researchers from multidisciplinary backgrounds,’ she said.
‘My current research interests include the optimal use of medications, use of technology in general practice and the use of general practice datasets to assess management, evaluate models of care, and develop systems to provide decision support to assist GPs with their work.’
Dr Manski-Nankervis is exploring her research interests in four projects that involve collaborating with organisations and professional bodies including Therapeutic Guidelines, the National Antimicrobial Stewardship Centre and NPS MedicineInsight, and encompass a range of work from creating a clinical decision support tool to using de-identified patient data from primary care to improve healthcare practices and policy.
She has also been awarded funding to support her research from a variety of professional bodies, including the RACGP Foundation and the National Medical Health and Research Council.
But while she has enjoyed success in her own research career, Dr Manski-Nankervis is aware of formidable challenges facing aspiring general practice researchers today, and has some ideas for measures that may help.
‘Lack of integration of research higher degrees with general practice training, competitiveness to access scholarships and the difficulty managing clinical work with research are all challenges,’ she said.
‘Options to support GPs in developing research skills or becoming an academic GP could include expansion of the academic registrar program to allow a second term for those enrolling in a research higher degree; an intercalated PhD–Fellowship program; the funding of a higher degree scholarship targeted at clinical GPs and registrars; and development of research training resources for GPs.
‘A group of GP PhD students and early career researchers have put together an item at Convocation this year, calling for the development of an implementation plan to address some of these issues.’
In the meantime, Dr Manski-Nankervis has a clear vision of where she wants her future research to go.
‘My aim is to be at the forefront of the use and development of innovations for the use of general practice datasets and decision support in general practice,’ she said.
‘There are some fantastic GP researchers, informaticians, statisticians, engineers, software developers and other medical specialists that I am really enjoying working with as I continue to develop my research career.’
Dr Manski-Nankervis is also very appreciative of the past opportunities that helped set her on her research career path.
‘The academic registrar posts provided a fantastic opportunity to explore research and teaching opportunities in general practice,’ she said.
Academic posts
An academic post is an AGPT program term in which general practice registrars learn academic skills through individualised learning plans, with mentoring and support from training providers, universities and the RACGP.
The post aims to provide exposure to research and the academic environment, encouraging registrars to incorporate academic work into their careers.
Further information is available on the RACGP website.

Academic post AGPT general practice research

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