Out and about – May 2024

Living out of a suitcase through May!

May for our CEO started with a pleasant if lengthy drive to the South Australian Riverlands for the National SEM Conference, where she had the opportunity to speak with supervisors and practice owners participating in the SEM developed for the Renmark and Berri communities.

What struck her most was the value of co-design in these place-based solutions. The essential ingredients might be summarised as flexibility, mutual respect, and a willingness to investigate and respond proactively to the needs of all stakeholders – trainees, supervisors, practices, state-run health services and the community members they serve. SEM is definitely not a one-size-fits-all concept, and has limited application based on geographical and demographic context; but for certain rural locations in which GPs juggle their workload across both hospital and practice settings, it offers a means to improve and perpetuate equitable primary health care options for the community.

On her trip home from Berri, Carla was invited to attend a GP Supervisor Networking Dinner in Swan Hill. Hosted by Murray PHN, this fun night at One28 Doors gave an enthusiastic group of supervisors the chance to discuss what they most enjoy about their supervision role, and their concerns about retaining registrars in regional and rural locations.

The next road trip followed shortly after the first, seeing Carla head to another very pretty town that should by rights be teeming with GPs! This year’s Rural Doctors Association of Victoria (RDAV) Conference was held in Mildura, where a lot of the discussions were again around retaining junior doctors to the end of and following their vocational training.

The Hon. Anne Webster, Federal Member for Mallee and Shadow Assistant Minister for Regional Health – coincidentally the wife of possibly the best known Mildura GP in living history, recently-retired Dr Phillip Webster – spoke passionately about this issue at the conference dinner where she witnessed the presentation of the RDAV Lifetime Membership Award to Dr Sue Harrison OAM… by none other than Sue’s daughter, Emergency Department Clinical Lead at Swan Hill District Health, Dr Emily Harrison (FACRRM).

Closing out the month, Carla travelled to Cairns for the RACGP Practice Owners Conference with GPSA COO Leonie Chamberlain and Chair Dr Srishti Dutta. In addition to all that Srishti covered in the June Chair Report, GPSA held a lively networking night for practice managers; Leonie visited the Wuchopperen Health Service managed by the lovely Susanne Raistrick; the GPSA booth was never empty; and Srishti, Carla and other sector partners were in constant networking mode. What you can’t tell from the conference photos is just how busy the GPSA team was talking with practice owners and supervisors about the NTCER, and hearing about the many innovations our members have developed to maintain and expand their team’s focus on a high quality learning culture. Truly inspirational.

Date reviewed: 31 May 2024

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GPSA Chair Report – June 2024

Our only limit is our imagination…

We are almost at the halfway mark in this Year of the Dragon – a zodiac sign represented by the infinity symbol… signifying endless possibilities, and the energy we send out into the universe coming back to us.

May ended with quite an exciting few days in which I, along with GPSA’s CEO Carla Taylor and COO Leonie Chamberlain, had the occasion to capture some of the really great energy sent out by delegates and exhibitors at the RACGP Practice Owners Conference in Cairns.

Amongst those sharing the good vibes were former GPSA Chairs, Nicole Higgins, Bruce Willett, Trish Baker, and last year’s Deputy Chair Madhu Tamilarasan. We are truly fortunate that this membership organisation of ours has evolved through the efforts of such a dedicated collection of GPs, and doubly blessed to have a current Board whose broad range of skillsets and passion keeps GPSA committed to building on the values and mission of those who preceded us.

Attending industry conferences is a great way to network with like-minded people and keep abreast of new innovations, research outcomes and any changes in our professional landscape. For GPSA, conferences are a fabulous way to connect with our members, to listen and learn from their stories, to offer our support and share our resources such as the newly drafted “Guide for Practice Managers New to Vocational GP Training” into which we’re asking members to provide input* in a model of co-design. For you, by you… does this remind you of the dragon’s infinity symbol?!

The real reward the GPSA team gets from participating in these conferences comes in the form of members sharing their appreciation for and ongoing use of our services and best practice educational tools like our webinars and teaching plans – these apparently being closely followed by our convenient SCENARIO app!

The goal I had set myself for the Cairns conference was to meet at least one supervisor younger than me – and you’ll be pleased to learn I actually found more than one! The fact the first young supervisor I spoke to was participating in a Single Employer Model (SEM) pilot was even more of a boon. While these pilots were a hot topic at the Practice Owners Conference, “payroll tax” was the phrase on everyone’s lips! Rural and urban GPs, especially those who own their practice share one core concern though: how will they be able to sustain the serve they provide their community into the future.

The question I have fielded most in the last 8 months comes from potential supervisors wanting to know when they can be accredited to take on AGPT registrars. My answer is guided by College accreditation policies that are in turn responsive to the environment in which we find ourselves today, namely with some 1,000+ training-accredited practices in surplus of demand. Until AGPT registrar numbers balance out this situation, I ask all those who are keen to be involved in training to please consider taking on medical students. The latest MDANZ report suggests a further drop in medical students choosing general practice – admittedly explained by the uptick in the rural generalist interest, but still suggesting the; let us show them what general practice has to offer by giving them a great experience in their placement.

While we are progressing the NTCER review with the goal of completing a full re-write in time for the 2025.1 placement process, there are still plenty of opportunities for everyone involved in the supervision of registrars – on each and every pathway – to contribute via the NTCER survey and stage-2 workshops**. Our aim is to ensure the NTCER is enhanced to strengthen the relationship between the practice, supervisor and registrar by taking out the confusion and frustration in sites hosting trainees across multiple pathways and under different conditions such as ADF registrars training in the practice under a secondment arrangement (similar to what’s emerging with SEM pilots). Your input into this process is essential to achieving a practical and effective tool that can help streamline in-practice training and continue to be future-focussed.

June promises to include lots of opportunities for us to network and explore issues of importance for our members, kicking off with the GPME conference at which Drs Simon Morgan and Jess Wrigley will be launching GPSA’s fun new supervision tool, the Consultation game – a physical board game we know you will want to get your hands on… and maybe let your trainees play too! Simon is giving you a sneak peak of this brand new innovation in his June Education Update (see the image under the Webinars heading in the June newsletter!). Then I will be representing GPSA at the WildHealth Burning GP conference mid-month; and the following week GPSA will be in Brisbane for the annual face to face meeting of the SLO Advisory Council and a member networking night on Friday 21st June. If you can join us, please register now – these events are a lot of fun!

Until next month, I leave you with this quote from a family favourite, How To Train Your Dragon: “The sky is not the limit, our imaginations are.

Dr Srishti Dutta, Chair

*Please email PMlead@gpsa.org.au with your suggestions / comments regarding the draft “Guide for Practice Managers New to Vocational GP Training”

**Please email Carla to register your interest in participating in the June  NTCER workshops. 

Date reviewed: 31 May 2024

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GPSA Chair Report – May 2024

Change not necessarily the only constant!

April 2024 has been a month of many significant days, extremes of celebration and tragedy, but there is one I would like to highlight in particular.

ANZAC Day is an opportunity to reflect on a great many things: sacrifice, courage, security, commitment, loss, solidarity, trauma… all having a lasting impact equally on loved ones and the community at large as on those who have contributed to our armed forces. GPSA is proud to support our peers who currently serve, those who have served, those who supervise ADF registrars, and those who care for our veterans and their families.

With Autumn in full gear now, May seems to be shaping up as a month of action for all of us in the supervision environment. Some of you will be completing mid-term reports for your registrars, others getting ready for the next round of placements, and hopefully we’re all keeping up with our professional development requirements too.

In my many travels and roles as a GP, I am repeatedly engaged in discussions about GPSA activities. This feedback from a supervisor peer who attended a webinar presented by Dr Simon Morgan and Dr Tim Chappell shows the impact our ongoing educational delivery has on our members:

Thank you both for a very engaging seminar! I watched it because I am a supervisor but benefitted from it as a GP. Tim, you had me at “dementor” and “chocolate”….! I absolutely love my job and listening to what you shared, Tim, it articulated the “why”. It was just good to hear again about the importance of being a good listener, being in your patient’s corner, not giving up on them…. and smiling! As is the case in many places, there is a high demand for services (where I work) and a long wait time and I have wondered if I should be more “matter of fact” and a more efficient problem solver so as to be able to see more patients. But I think that one would then miss out on those nuggets of history that come forth with time, and also the meaningful doctor-patient relationships that we can have in our line of work.

And these words from a registrar who had reached out in a time of difficulty shows the benefit of what GSPA’s focus on the “how” of supervision ultimately has on our trainees:

I am at a new practice now – it is amazing what a difference a supportive supervisor can make. Feeling settled and now actually can start to learn.

It is when we receive such feedback that I know our impact as supervisors goes well beyond supervision, and GPSA’s impact as the supervision peak truly is vital for the future of general practice.

GP training will continue to change, as will general practice. As part of this community of practice, we will have to evolve and keep up with the world around us, yet we can do so in the knowledge that the GSPA values shaped by the “why” and the “how” of supervision will remain a constant on which you can rely.

The other thing you can depend on is GPSA’s commitment to representing you faithfully in our stakeholder engagement, the future direction we are advocating for on your behalf, and in the priorities you share for the current review of the National Terms and Conditions for the Employment of Registrars (NTCER).

If you haven’t already done so, please take some time out to complete our National Survey for 2024. This is not an idle exercise. This really is your opportunity to influence future policy around a range of things including workforce, remuneration and recognition of supervision. The information we obtain from this survey helps us share the real issues at the coalface with policy makers and funders, emphasising what needs to change and what needs to stay the same. While this is of course the long term benefit, there’s a short-term one too! Completing “ENGAGE 2024 – Building a better future together” counts towards your CPD (RP) as an added bonus. This survey is open to everyone involved in GP training – supervisors, GPs, practice managers, practice nurses, and others who support learners in general practice.

For anyone who has been involved in registrar employment – terms, conditions, or contract oversight -, now is the time to help us maximise the opportunity to update this legally valid employment instrument. The inevitability of change applies in this area of GP training too, with other employment models being explored under the Single Employer Model pilots, but the NTCER remains relevant to the bulk of GPs-in-training, and we need your contribution to ensure its robustness and utility is maintained and possibly broadened to non-traditional contexts (i.e. beyond the employment of AGPT registrars). We’ve come up with a variety of ways for you to tell us what’s important, which key areas you would like addressed to ensure the next version of the NTCER is fit for purpose into the future. Let us know your views via the NTCER survey and/or by joining one of our member workshops or via email.

So until next month…

May the force be with you!

Dr Srishti Dutta
Chair

Date reviewed: 01 May 2024

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“We really are building the future of general practice”
Dr Candice Baker, GP Supervisor and GPSA Board Director

Candice obtained fellowship as an Australian General Practitioner in 2015, then as a Canadian Family Physician in 2019. She has worked at a training practice in regional Victoria for 10 years.

This is where the seeds of passion for medical education were sown through supervision of medical students and registrars before becoming an accredited supervisor early in 2022.

How have you arrived at your GPSA role?
“I have a desire to contribute within general practice supervision, to try to ignite some change, and help support the profession.

“That desire has been born out of the environment that I trained in and therefore the same sort of environment that I want to create and promote in terms of general practice supervision. It stems back to when I did my training and that amazing environment, surrounded by my supervisors, and a culture of teaching and learning: where everyone was a teacher and a learner at the same time. I identified with these colleagues, and they were pivotal in shaping my desire to follow their lead.

I identified with these colleagues, and they were pivotal in shaping my desire to follow their lead”

“With regards to my role on the GPSA Board specifically, I think that’s probably a combination of my love of teaching with a hint of opportunity and a whole lot of luck – falling into things at the right time and the right place. Dr Madhu Tamilarasan, a GP Supervisor and former GPSA Director and friend, motivated me to engage actively with GPSA. Despite my hesitation about my suitability for the Board, Madhu encouraged me to throw my hat in the ring. She was a great inspiration to me.”

How have your various roles prepared you for your work with GPSA?
“The training environment I experienced enabled me to get involved in education in various forms. As a 2nd year registrar, I was involved in supervising medical students and I was also a Registrar Medical educator (RME) with my Victorian RTO.

“I also work for Monash University School of Rural Health and assist in the running of their general practice program for their Year 4 students. These roles were quite complementary to general practice supervision and allowed me to understand the breadth of supervision, and in fact, what it means to be a supervisor.

“And I’m currently a Supervisor Liaison Officer (SLO) which is a complementary role to everything in terms of advocating and works nicely with my GPSA Board role.
“It all seems to be a very natural progression for me, and I have just gone where the path has taken me.”

Do you see opportunities for GPSA’s education products internationally?
“I think there are opportunities for GPSA to expand to specific international markets where the core knowledge is the same throughout. For example, in looking at Canada where I spent some time during Covid, there were no major differences to Australia in terms of primary health care.

“In terms of SCENARIO, GPSA’s phone application, I think it’s really helpful and could be applied in other health care settings. Particularly for new supervisors, who maybe just haven’t quite figured out exactly how they want to structure their teaching sessions, or whether they’re stuck for what to cover at a particular stage in their learner’s journey.

“This application offers a form of convenience and a certain spontaneity that can be helpful. SCENARIO can flush out streams of deficiencies or things that maybe the learner needs to focus a bit more on. For example, was their respiratory knowledge as good as their cardiology knowledge; are they not as good at communication versus legal concepts.

“I think there is huge potential for growth within different areas of specialization, whether that’s obstetrics or emergency. I can see it being used much more widely and I’ve certainly found it useful and a fun thing to add to our teaching sessions with my registrars.”

What challenges are presently of greatest concern in the realm of supervision for our members that you’re aware of?
“I have three issues when I speak to supervisors that are top of mind:

  1. The sustainability of supervision – in the sense of the current apprenticeship model in general practice and what that looks like into the future.
  2. Appreciation of supervision is a big concern and, in particular, how supervisors are viewed In the wider scheme of things. With the transition of GP training back to the colleges, I think that has led to some under appreciation and undervaluing of the supervisors on the ground. There has been lots of new work and new assessments being introduced with limited consultation on the ground about how that would work in practice.
  3. Thirdly, remuneration is always a hot topic. I think we’re all aware that GP supervisors give way more than what most people would at the hourly rate they get paid. There seems to be this constant idea that supervisors can just do more, and that’s okay. Can we create a sustainable, high quality general practitioner at the end of training, if we don’t nourish the people that are nourishing them? We wouldn’t expect to have a bountiful garden full of vegetables if we didn’t actually take care of the soil. I think supervisors are the soil that helps grow our future workforce.”
  “I think supervisors are the soil that helps grow our future workforce.”
 

What solutions do you see that we offer to our members? What are we doing to help?
“GPSA is striving to lead from the front. I think our presence is more visible and the organisation is more prominent compared to perhaps 3-5 years ago.

“I believe we’re doing a great job advocating for those at the coalface and that’s partly because the Board of Directors are supervisors – we are the people we represent. We’ve got a firsthand idea of what it’s like to be on the ground and doing supervision work. That puts us in an excellent position to be able to advocate for change and be heard. We are very good at listening to our members and making sure that we sort of get a seat at every table to talk about issues that are important to general practice supervision.

“I firmly believe you can’t effect change if you’re not actually involved in the conversation. From that perspective, it’s been a successful couple of years in terms of having a seat at each table and being able to do that.”

Message to fellow supervisors
“My main message to fellow supervisors is that we value you. A while ago I was told by a colleague at Monash, “we really value what you do”. I suddenly thought, no one’s ever really said that to me. As supervisors, we really don’t get told that we are valued for what we do. Now I make a concerted effort when I catch up with my local supervisors to tell them that we really value having them as part of the team. And if there’s anything that we can do to make life a bit easier for them, then tell us. Acknowledging their indispensable role in general practice training is crucial. Without supervision and the dedicated work of supervisors on the ground, training simply wouldn’t be possible. We really are building the future of general practice and GPs in Australia.

We really are building the future of general practice and GPs in Australia.”

“Additionally, I really feel strongly about finding a way to further engage practices that are committed to education and training at a high level of quality. It’s important we come up with a set of standards for supervision that allow us to ensure that we are putting supervisors and registrars into supported practices, and that we know that trainees are going to get a good training experience. The GPCLE tool has a huge role to play in this work. It sets the standard of supervision and whether we’re meeting that bar as training organizations or training practices. This is an important focus over the next couple of years.”

Date reviewed: 24 April 2024

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Excerise: Body Slang

For convenience, you can read through this resource here, or use the pdf tools at the top of the document to download and / or print the file. 

Date reviewed: 07 April 2024

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GPSA Chair Report – April 2024

Celebrating & Reflecting

March was certainly a month for celebrations and reflection – Harmony Day, International Women’s Day, Holi, St Patricks Day, Ramadan, World Compliment Day, International Day of Happiness, Lent and Easter….

Following the first meeting of the General Practice Training Advisory Committee (GPTAC) in Canberra at the tail end of the month, I can now share yet another reason for GPSA members to reflect and celebrate: the release of the AGPT Program National Report on the 2023 National Registrar Survey | Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care.
For me, the key messages in this report reiterate the vital role the people at the coalface of GP training played in the successful transition to college-led training – and continue to play as the lifeblood of high quality primary care for the Australian community.

The satisfaction of registrars with our members has remained consistently high from 2017 to 2023. Indeed, the analysis by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) of over 1000 open-ended responses in the 2023 survey shows that more than 92% of registrars attributed the best aspects of their training experience to:

  • their current workplace or practice;
  • supervisor and mentor support; and
  • the diversity of patient presentations.

This feedback reinforces the value of GPSA’s commitment to facilitating a supportive and well-structured clinical learning environment for tomorrow’s GP workforce – through our ever-expanding repository of educational resources, our virtual community of practice, the GPCLE quality improvement tool we are currently refining, our upcoming biennial review of the National Terms & Conditions for the Employment of Registrars (NTCER), and even the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) recently signed between GPSA and our sister peak GPRA.

In all the many tables at which GPSA has a seat now, it is a true pleasure to highlight the role supervisors, practice managers and other members of training practices play in the success that we as a profession can claim today and into the future. My job as GPSA Chair is largely focused on advocating for you in your supervision of medical learners and trainees across the educational spectrum. I continually speak to both GP specialty colleges regarding topics our members flag as priorities, such as dual recognition of supervisor professional development and similar efficiencies to ensure minimisation of red tape and maximisation of well-being. To get this right though, we are reliant on your engagement and input.

To this end, you will soon receive an invitation to participate in the GPSA national survey – newly and aptly branded “ENGAGE”. I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of the information you provide through this data collection opportunity: the more you contribute to GPSA research such as this survey, the greater an investment we can make in your future growth and sustainability.

We will soon be launching into the NTCER review – which again is completely reliant on your input to ensure we represent your needs faithfully in this process. The NTCER remains a tool that provides protections for both training practices and registrars, and this year we are looking to enhance it and expand its application to non-traditional contexts such as vocational training pathways outside the AGPT. No doubt you have ideas about improvements at both a big picture and granular level, and we sincerely want to hear about these! Please submit your expression of interest here if you would like to be involved in workshopping the NTCER for 2025-26 with us.

Looking forward to working with you on the key activities lined up for April. Until then, as Yoda would say, “Pass on what you have learned”!

Dr Srishti Dutta
Chair

Date reviewed: 28 March 2024

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Why get involved with GPSA? “Having lots of skin in the game,” says this high-flying GP

Dr Kate Manderson is a name associated broadly with Australian general practice and GP supervision yes, but also with aerospace medicine, corporate and clinical governance, advocacy and – above all else – family and community.

On the eve of the transition of GP training to the GP specialty Colleges, this experienced GP and practice principal decided it was time to contribute her vast skills and experience to ensuring quality and passion remained at the heart of clinical supervision for future GPs in-training.

So it was that this ADF-trained health professional, businesswoman, Principal Medical Officer of CASA, Senior Aviation Medical Officer of the  Royal Australian Navy, Graduate of the AICD, Medical Educator and past President and Chair of the Australasian Society of Aerospace Medicine (ASAM) came to be elected onto the Board of GPSA in October 2022.

Kate recently talked with our Communications Manager, Pauline Ingham, about her burning desire to get a better deal for Australian GP supervisors.

What do you think has brought you here to this role on the GPSA Board?

“After 25 years as a GP I have been inside the GP system for a long time and gained a lot of valuable experience.

“Like a lot of GPs, I have a lot of ‘skin in the game’, having worked as a GP, a Medical Educator and a Supervisor.

“I understand how it works, how it could be improved, and have seen some challenging times.”

Why GPSA?

“At a time when I couldn’t contribute to GP training at the coalface, I still wanted to contribute meaningfully.

“I saw the opportunity to use my experience and skills in clinical leadership and governance through the role on the GPSA Board… as a way to help our system, our supervisors and our trainees on a broader scale.”

She notes that she was encouraged and supported by colleagues who said, “Kate you can do this!” – and she decided the time was right.

“My experience in governance, company directorships and leadership came into play. Having an understanding of the importance of operating a viable and strong business, combined with my supervision experiences, enabled me to put myself forward and make a contribution to GPSA."

How have your various roles prepared you for your work with GPSA?

“My first role as a GP registrar prepared me by going through the system. I was privileged to train in Tasmania and on the whole had fabulous education, mentoring and training, working with pioneers and leaders who are still involved today. I learned from people who showed me how great it could be.

“My placement experience varied after that – some practices gave little support; however, it was still the early days of training, and often I was on my own. Some practices straddled the line between good and bad: offering great mentoring and supervision, but less structured education.

“So I had the opportunity to experience lots of different perspectives as a trainee as to what supervision looked like, could look like, and what it  actually should look like.”

How did that view of supervision you had as a trainee change when you started supervising?

“When I moved into the role as a Supervisor and had the opportunity to be on the other side of the table, I instantly realised how hard it can be to be a supervisor!

“I was so determined that there really is no excuse for being a poor supervisor, but the actual experience of doing the job for more than a decade, and having more than 50 trainees over the years, has led me to realise it’s not that simple at all.

“Supervisors deal with registrars of varying needs, and this requires a flexible system that can be very difficult to achieve.”

As a practice owner, what do you see as the challenges facing educating and training the next generation of GPs?

“I see two big challenges or barriers – adequate funding and adequate recognition.

“You want to be altruistic and you want to help somebody – vulnerable people and vulnerable communities – and you want to spend lots of time with patients. And that is beautiful, but you can’t do that if the practice closes because you can’t pay the wages.

“Let’s start with money, and we must talk about that. If your business goes bankrupt you can’t help anyone. It's a fundamental part of what I teach trainees, they have to understand the business of general practice."

So let’s talk about the money!

“It can seem unpleasant to raise, but thinking that money isn’t important is part of the reason we have ended up in this current situation.

“It is important – and there are some key barriers we need to address.

“To start with, the funding model of general practice is fit-for-purpose for 1975, but it is not fit-for-purpose for 2025, 2035, 2045… It hasn’t been fit-for-purpose for a very long time because everything has changed around us, just not this funding model. That is the biggest barrier.

“We are not funded as supervisors, and until that changes we will not have consistency in the quality of training placements… Which means appropriate funding is needed urgently for supervisors and training practices as well as the trainee.

“There is a vast difference between the funding for hospital-based supervisors with payment built into their contracts, and how GP supervisors do it: GP supervisors take a pay cut to teach!”

Any other barriers you’d like knocked down?

“The culture of general practice.

“The idea of #justagp – ‘Are you a specialist or just a GP?’ – is problematic.

“We need something much more powerful in recognition of the specialty of general practice.”

“I believe we must bring back the PGPPP so that everybody gets a turn in general practice – so they understand what it’s about.

“I also strongly believe that we need a name change, because everyone uses ‘GP’ whether they should or shouldn’t.”

“We need to identify our unique skill set, it’s got to be marketed, again back to the finances... We pay equivalently, we recognise the specialty equivalently, and everyone understands what the specialty does."

What challenges are presently of greatest concern in the realm of supervision for our members?

“My sense is that the biggest concern is ‘who’s going to take over when I am done?’

“We have members who are passionate, dedicated and committed in that role. And they are altruistic, self sacrificing, they are doing it without any money, without any recognition, because they want to and they think it’s important.

“Part of it is they are there for the future of the profession, part of it is they are there for the future of their practice. They are thinking, ‘If I am not supervising, we can’t get trainees; if we can’t get trainees, we can’t get succession planning and workforce’ and so on.

“I am living that experience right now. I am not currently supervising registrars in my practice so this equates to empty consulting rooms in my practice.

“People might say if we can’t get registrars then why not get Fellows. That is proving almost impossible in the current climate.” 

We need more women in supervision. How would you encourage women to pursue roles as supervisors? 

“Firstly, GPSA’s current Women in Supervision research is important because if it doesn’t get measured it doesn’t get fixed.

“Data is key and can be used strategically. Commonwealth Departments respond well to data, and politicians respond to real life stories. So you have to tackle any issues with submissions and data.

“With regards encouraging more women into supervision, I’ve already said that supervision is altruistic – you give of your time and your money. Women already have less money and less time, and we are asking them to have even less money and even less time. We have to fix that!

“Another factor is that historically women carry the greater burden of child care. If we have more, better, financially accessible child care for women in primary care, women would do more in primary care.

“If GPSA found a way to subsidise women volunteering to supervise with a cleaner? We’d be inundated! Essentially, childcare and financial recognition are the two things I think will get more women into supervision.”

“If we can adequately remunerate or financially recognise supervision overall, then this will no longer be yet another cut to women who are already being cut by the financial disparity we continue to endure. This would benefit everyone - not just women of course, but it would proportionately benefit women even more.”

What would you like to say to Australia’s supervisors?

“My message to Australian supervisors is to hang in there!

“You are special, you are doing amazing things. GPSA understands this and we’ve got your back. We’re going to do everything we can to make it better for you, so please hang in there while we do that.

“I’d also like to send a message to our trainees, our early Fellows and our new supervisors, and that is to please show up, please don’t expect everyone else to do it. It is a champion team, so show up, be brave, put yourselves out there.

“I urge you to support the industry leaders who are saying GPs have to charge privately and we have to charge our worth to make it so that we can afford to supervise in practices. Be brave, be there, show up and take it on!

“I am taken back to my time in the Navy when the mantra in an emergency or attack was to never leave the ship – the three step approach was ‘Fight, Move, Float’ and ‘we do not abandon ship!’

“So I say to my colleagues: we value you, we need you, don’t abandon the ship!”

Date reviewed: 28 March 2024

Please note that while reasonable care is taken to provide accurate information at the time of creation, we frequently update content and links as needed. If you identify any inconsistencies or broken links, please let us know by email.

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GPSA Chair Report – March 2024

It sure has been a busy month or so – no doubt if you’re looking after a new trainee, you will be feeling this along with me!

I hope it’s a been a good start to the training year for you, and want to remind you that, whenever guidance might be needed, you are not alone. 

At the vocational training level, your College supports include your local SLO and relevant Regional Team member(s); complementing these, regardless if you are involved in placements for medical students, prevocational doctors or vocational registrars, GPSA offers the Community platform as a supervision intranet of sorts, where you can seek help from your peers and brainstorm solutions for emerging problems. 

We also provide advice via email for all things NTCER, registrar onboarding and supervision support, along with regular educational webinars and over 1,000 best practice resources and digital tools.

Supervisors and practice managers in GP training form a vital community of practice, and February was marked by many of our sector partners releasing pre-budget submissions that paid homage to this community: aligning with GPSA’s priorities of recognition, reward and respect for our members.

We actively seek cross-portfolio recognition and reward for training practices and supervisors and commend all stakeholders who have used the platform of their own pre-budget submissions to argue the need for greater support of all parties at the coalface of GP training. This includes the RACGP’s calls for improved funding of GPT1, when significant trainee support is provided by supervisors, as well as training programs like FSP and PEP – which need to be sufficiently funded to allow consistent quality of training and supervision for all GPs in-training across the country.

I firmly believe that the increasing burdens and complexity of healthcare delivery, coupled with the worldwide shortage of medical workforce, make a collaborative focus on developing high quality “medical generalism” the only true solution for our communities. Strengthening and supporting placement experiences for optimum learning of these generalist skills is essential for a robust, effective future workforce. The breadth of knowledge and skills we command and convey through GP supervision is the bedrock of our health system, such that every training practice is a workshop where the next generation of GPs is crafted with a commitment to quality.

With the power in the hands of our members when it comes to the delivery of high quality placements, for the last 10 months GPSA’s research team has been tackling the gargantuan task of developing a tool to support benchmarking and quality improvement in GP training. Based on the best practice framework known as the General Practice Clinical Learning Environment (GPCLE), this tool now needs your input. As a supervisor of both medical students and GPs in-training, I am keen to contribute to the refinement of this innovative tool, and I encourage every member, everyone – educators, supervisors and practice team members – involved or aspiring to be involved in GP training across all educational levels, to test and provide your feedback on the GPCLE tool to ensure it serves as a fit-for-purpose resource to maximise the power you have in the future-proofing of primary healthcare.

Until next month… may the force be with you!

Dr Srishti Dutta
Chair

Date reviewed: 28 March 2024

Please note that while reasonable care is taken to provide accurate information at the time of creation, we frequently update content and links as needed. If you identify any inconsistencies or broken links, please let us know by email.

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Dr Sue Harrison, OAM shares insights into Supervision

We congratulate Sue on being recognised in the 2024 Australia Day Honours List for her service to rural medicine.

Dr Sue Harrison, a rural generalist in Echuca and one of ACRRM’s founding fellows, has been a GP and Visiting Medical Officer (VMO) in Echuca and Moama (Victoria/NSW) for the past 40 years. In addition to her experience in clinical work as a GP and GP Anaesthetist, Sue is also senior lecturer for the University of Melbourne RCS and engaged with remote supervision of a RVTS registrar and occasional GP locums.

Sue talked with GPSA about her contribution to supervision, and more.

When did your involvement with supervision begin?

Sue has a made a valuable contribution to the training and supervision of our future workforce. This began over two decades ago in rural general practice. The practice she worked at had a “supervisory team focus” managing learners at different levels. She took on a more active role in supervision when she became a practice owner.

What qualities are needed to be a good supervisor?

“I think that you need to have an interest in education and trained but I think you also need to have an interest in the people under your supervision as people individually. Where are we going? What are your goals? How can we help you to get there? How can we make this available placement for you? Those are the questions that I like to ask.”

“I try to make sure that I have an understanding of what their current curriculum is and what they’re actually trying to get out of the placement. The aim is to optimize the experience for the learner but also optimize the usefulness within the practice of having that person as an engaged learner so that they’re actually contributing to the practice team.”

Why is quality supervision so important for trainees?

“I think it’s important that students or learners feel safe with what they’re doing in the practice. My experience over the last 25 years is that students are probably less experienced and less well ready for practice. As such, by the time they get to General Practice they often haven’t had as much clinical experience as I would have expected someone who was trained 25 years ago to have. So, supervisors have to be quite cognizant that sometimes they need a bit more hand-holding to get to a place where they feel safe in that independent practice environment.”

Can you share a highlight that you’ve had in your role supervising either medical students or other learners?

“An ongoing highlight for me is when I have the opportunity to work with people who I supported during their training, and they remember the time they spent with me positively. Sometimes that had a big influence on their career decision making.”

“I’m especially thrilled to be working with other rural generalist doctors whose training I’ve been involved in and to see them working in, or working as, a rural generalist throughout Australia.”

“Rural doctors make enormous investments into education and supervision which has positive flow on affects to the communities they work in.”

“An aspect of the rural community that I’ve been especially proud of is that some young doctors have taken up the baton of rural medical politics and advocacy. In particular, Dr Megan Belot, immediate past-president of RDA, who I have mentored and have a long-lasting friendship with. Also, my daughter, Dr Emily Harrison, who is now on the Board of RDA and a Council Member with ACRRM. I am so proud that they’ve taken up these voluntary roles and that their passion about rural medicine has resulted in such big commitments.”

What would you like to say to Australia’s supervisors?

 “I have four messages for supervisors and the supervision sector:

– Call for integrated supervisor training

“Firstly, I’d like to call for the organisations who support learning in general practice – so the colleges and those in the prevocational space and medical schools – to recognize that supervision training is important, but that GPs don’t need to do a separate lot of supervision training for each of those organisations. I believe these organisations should work together to provide the training and updating rather than mandate that it’s duplicated for every environment. I strongly believe the organisations concerned should get together an cooperate.”

– Supervisor PD

“In my role as Victorian SLO with ACRRM, I’m advocating that we make it as easy as possible for our supervisors to stay engaged with ongoing professional development in the supervision space.”

– Engage younger colleagues

“The next thing I would say is to engage your younger colleagues with supervision early in the piece, even as a registrar, to start letting them see that that it’s an important part of their role as a doctor. So, looking at opportunities for vertical integration of training within practices.”

– Spend some time getting to know learners and trainees.

“I encourage supervisors to spend time to get an idea of who this learner is and where they’ve come from. Even if each learner’s medical knowledge is the same, there are going to be different things they need assistance with. I need to know who this person is where they come from and what are they hoping to get out with us and for their career progression. What can we do to make this day as useful to you as possible whilst of getting the work done? This approach gives me a level of safety in my current hospital roles. Knowing that this person has just arrived from a city hospital this week and has been doing rotations in great big teams where the work is less hands on, and now I’m asking them to actually step up to be a very active member of my team.”

Date reviewed: 02 February 2024

Please note that while reasonable care is taken to provide accurate information at the time of creation, we frequently update content and links as needed. If you identify any inconsistencies or broken links, please let us know by email.

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GPSA Chair Report – February 2024

Prestige, pay, and recognition

I write this Chair report hoping that you have all had a great holiday period and returned to your workplaces reinvigorated and refreshed. It’s February already, a month of this year already gone – a month that has seen us acknowledge some of the positive trends emerging after a full year of College led training.

For me, this year started with a long-awaited trip to see my family, visit my roots, and reflect on my early exposure to community physicians in the small town where I was born. This certainly set the tone for me to meet with the new GPSA Board to strategise as we did mid-January – with new ideas and energised minds – about what promises to be an exciting year ahead.

The most recent statistics show an increased interest in vocational GP training, notably with rural generalist positions fully subscribed. This has not been achieved without a lot of hard work, and GPSA is honoured to advocate for the supervisors who remain an integral part of growing this workforce through the quality of the experience they provide, irrespective of where they may be located. January has also seen the recognition of several GPSA members on the Australia Day Honours list. I invite you to join me in congratulating:

  • Dr Jeff Robinson, OAM;
  • Dr Christine Longman, OAM;
  • Prof Charlotte Hespe, AM; and
  • Dr Suzanne Harrison, OAM: Co-Chair of the SLO Advisory Council

This year we hope to build on the existing work that our members do in the community as both GPs and supervisors: community consultants and leaders. As we move towards formal recognition of the rural generalist sub-specialty, it is worth considering the role of the supervisor in general practice through the RG lens. Supervisors provide the hands-on guidance, teaching, training and management advice that would be provided by Consultants in the hospital context. It is only through our supervision role that a sustainable future GP/RG workforce can be developed; it is our influence over the learning experience that inspires the GPiT to become a GP/RG, and from there, a future supervisor.

In the GPSA pre-budget submission, we seek the value of supervision to be recognised through a more collaborative mindset both within primary care and across potential funding sources. While various solutions are at play to attract medical students and junior doctors to general practice, the ability to capitalise on these initiatives for the long-term benefit of our communities relies on the continued commitment of both existing and future supervision teams. This commitment in turn relies on respect for the critical role our members play, taking the form of an increase in remuneration and prestige, and greater recognition within our wider GP community as well.

In coming months, prevocational exposure to general practice will significantly increase across urban, outer metro and rural regions, with expanded medical student placements soon to follow. While this has the potential to spark the youngest and brightest minds into action as our future colleagues and the problem solvers of the next generation, the success of this opportunity will be commensurate with the level of support and empowerment provided to the training practices and supervisors responsible for cultivating medical students, prevocational doctors and vocational trainees into the autonomous, patient-centred healthcare professionals our communities need. It all starts with recognition.

And this report ends with recognition too – specifically recognising the amazing contribution of one individual known to and responsible for inspiring so many across this sector and beyond. As the first semester of 2024 kicks off, the life and legacy of Prof Dennis Pashen – Founder and Former President of ACRRM; Former President of RDAA; Rural Generalist; Supervisor; passionate supporter and member of GPSA – will be celebrated in a memorial that befits the life work of a premier advocate for community healthcare. May Prof Pashen long be remembered as a driver of change.

Dr Srishti Dutta
Chair

Date reviewed: 02 February 2024

Please note that while reasonable care is taken to provide accurate information at the time of creation, we frequently update content and links as needed. If you identify any inconsistencies or broken links, please let us know by email.

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