Dr Alvin Chua

Alvin was recently recognised by GPSA for over 17 years of service as a GP Supervisor. Dr Chua graduated from The University of Adelaide in 1997 and has a wealth of experience in hospitals across South Australia including Modbury Hospital and Lyell McEwin Hospital; and various general practices in rural and metropolitan suburbs of Adelaide. Dr Chua became the founder of the Health at Group in 2001, with fellow Director and Practice Principal Dr Anna Schettini, and currently works at Health at Campbelltown in South Australia, In 2004 Dr Chua graduated Musculo-Skeletal Medicine at Flinders University, and continues to have an interest in Musculo-Skeletal Medicine. Dr Chua is a GP Supervisor through the GPEx Training Program.

GP Supervisor profile – Dr Alvin Chua

What rewards do you feel you have gained from GP Supervision ?
Being able to shape the future of general practice and replace the workforce. Teaching and encouraging people who might look after us in the future is satisfying. I am always learning something everyday and I believe that the day you stop learning is when you become arrogant and dangerous, and you should stop practicing. As a GP you are always learning every day more than other professions, and registrars teaching us as well is a part of this.

What type of things do you feel you have learnt from GP registrars?
The current cohort of registrars put more emphasis on work life balance than my generation. In my time people put in 40-50 clinical hours plus overtime. This generation have a much better work life balance which people of my generation need to work on. Hopefully this prevents more burnout in the future, which I see in my generation with GPs sometimes becoming burnt out, bitter and cynical. The new generation has a much better perspective on work-life balance.

What are the challenges of GP supervision?
The biggest challenge is trying to compete with a dwindling workforce, competing with hospitals which offer much more generous remuneration. This makes it hard to compete for trainees. The GP workforce is dwindling and remuneration is tied into Medicare rebates. Hospitals have been able to increase 3-4% per annum when Medicare rebates were frozen from 2012-19, making us behind the eight ball and trying to catch up. The lack of exposure to general practice in medical training, with only 2-3 weeks during medical school leaves a lot to be desired. Previously, we had the Prevocational General Practice Placements Program (PGPPP) which ran from 2004 to 2014. Under the PGPPP, during their internship, registrars were allocated to a general practice for twelve weeks at a time. A lot of the registrar cohort in this time ended up as GPs and later trained other GPs as well. I was sorry to see that program go, and the whole GP workforce were sorry to see it go. The government does not seem interested in reinstating this program. Generally, there’s an expectation from Government that GPs continue to do things with altruistic values with lower expectation of monetary rewards. This is one of the biggest struggles we face as a profession.

How has GPSA Supported you?
GPSA has supported GP Supervisors like myself with negotiation of the National Terms and Conditions for the Employment of GP Registrars (NTCER) with GPRA. This sometime involves pushback when registrars have their own agendas and we as GP supervisors have our own limitations of what we are able to pay for registrars. GPSA tries to adopt an approach of all of us working together in general practice, not a ‘them’ vs ‘us’ mentality. In the past registrars adopted a ‘them’ vs ‘us’ approach which was not very conducive to working together.

What would you say to others considering becoming a GP supervisor?
 Get your feet wet and get into it. You’ll find its quite rewarding and the rewards far outweigh the challenges. Registrars are future colleagues of ours and also our future workforce.

Date reviewed: 26 March 2024

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