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

Date reviewed: 02 February 2024

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