Breathing New Life 2013 (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1

The Leaders’ Forum discussing GP Workforce 2025 was one of the highlights of the conference. Chaired wonderfully by Dr Emily Farrell, it comprised a veritable who’s-who of GP leadership. Prof Murry from ACRRM (covered in the early stages by Dr Davies), Dr Hambleton from the AMA, GPRA Chair Dr Vergara, GPSN Chair Mr Townsend, Dr Baker from NGPSA, Dr Marles from RACGP, Dr Kammerman from RDAA, Sharon Flynn chair of the RTP CEOs and Prof Kidd (no introduction required!).

Leaders Forum FTW

Leaders Forum FTW

Rural workforce issues were a hot topic for the forum generating plenty of debate and also activity on the Twitter feed and some novel ideas for improving recruitment were offered:

Filling in for Prof Murray, ACCRM trainee Marion Davies provided some great advice for aspiring rural doctors during their training:

Up and coming GP leaders like Dave Townsend summarised that training needs to have improved information about where it is possible, communication between providers and collaboration towards a common goal. Dave also demonstrated his Gen Y talent by not only taking part as a forum leader, but also concurrently tweeting the points made by the person sitting in the next chair:

Not so technically savvy, but more than capable of contributing important points was Dr Hambleton. Even though a GP himself and quite likely able to multitask, his AMA media person was helping to keep the Twitter-stream flowing:

Not only was the topic of learning raised, but also that of teaching and growing our pool of supervisors. Trish from NGPSA admitted that supervisors were getting older and also dealing with a more challening mix of trainees:



One suggestion that Dr Ashe Nicholas provided was to increase the membership and role of the General Practice Registrar Medical Educator Network (GPRMEN). This group of registrars would serve to promote the idea of teaching to form and hopefully increase the future number of medical educators and supervisors. Given that the number of AGPT applications are increasing, a much larger cohort will be needed and won’t simply fall from the sky:

For some, the seed of teaching had been planted long before even commencing GP training as described by Dr. Mel Clothier, a gorgeous GP registrar from Clare. Dr Clothier had positive experiences in teaching medical students in her higher levels of med school and tweeted from SA:

Even the wonderful students tweeted suggestions as to how best promote general practice during medical school. It really summed up the beauty of such a conference. Where else could the future of the field so easily fire off ideas to be considered by the top leaders who have the ability to effect change:

The students were a crucial part of the day, not only tweeting, but also providing help for the older generation not across social media or infographics. The infographic (below) constructed by Rebecca Wood, council member of GPSN, summarised the main points made by each forum leader on the topic of workforce issues:

On-the-fly infographic courtesy of @rfrwood

On-the-fly infographic courtesy of @rfrwood

Unfortunately not all the questions were covered, but one that will continue to generate discussion  included the future of primary health care research:

Briefly summarising the latest in GPRA news and updates, Mr Amit Vohra was also proud to launch the new look GPRA website. He told everyone of the brilliant work of GPSN and its incredible cost-effectiveness as a GP promotion tool. Amit also pointed to the Going Places network as the fastest growing of them covering 65% of Australian teaching hospitals while filling the “black hole” that some GP registrars find themselves in while working there. Some of his final remarks centred around the jump of 25% to 35% of all AGPT applicants having been involved in one of the programs. What an amazing pipeline that I’m sure will only increase in calibre and flow (no urology jokes).

The 6th GPRA Breathing New Life conference also offered an insight into GP life as part of the Australian Defence Force (ADF). To begin, Dr Kerry Summerscales described her journey swapping rifle for tuning fork. Although her time in the Australia Army was spent wielding syringes rather than guns, working in the medical corps as a pathology technician. Her stories of deployment and training then flowed into her time at Flinders Uni working with the fledgling GPSN. It prompted some to wonder in jest about the model of employment offered by the armed forces:

The rank and file then heard from Brigadier Rudzki AM, who described the different work that was available to GPs in the military. He told of his operational postings overseas and showed many pictures of the exciting jobs that he held. Having said “I’m not here to sign anyone up” the Brigadier told some amazing storied that had some wondering whether working rurally was challenging enough:

Throughout the day, the food was exemplary as always at Parliament House. They were certainly not scraps from the Cabient table that day:

Given the deliciousness of the food described, hands being used to eat therefore restricted tweeting during the meal breaks and as such was observed from afar:

The Great Debate provided a light-hearted look at some of the serious topics facing general practice. The first motion was “Mandatory return of service for all doctors is the only way to guarantee a rural workforce.”

The affirmative took a military approach led by Captain Summerscales, Brigadier Maxell and Corporal Considine who contended that we are at war against maldistribution and that we must form a Coalition of the (Medicare) Billing.

The negative team wanted to be more peaceful about the situation and offer more incentives or “carrots”to attract more doctors to the country:

By a vote of louder claps to lesser claps, the affirmative team took the honours:

The next motion was that “Generalists will rule the world in 2025” with some great debate highlighted in the resultant twitter stream:

Dr David Chessor once again demonstrated his flair for simultaneous debate and tweeting much to the chagrin of the opposition team:

and on occasion, from the audience:

At the conclusion of the day, everyone present offered a large round of applause and the ‘Twepreciation’ came flooding in:

Although all the days online action may have seen some reaching for the Voltaren gel:

For the students it was an inspiring day to hear about the benefits of a career that they may consider. For GP registrars it was sobering to understand the challenges facing them into the future. For current GPs it must have been heartening to see a motivated group of young students/doctors ready to answer the call for Australia’s health workforce into 2025. For the associated GPRA staff and organisers it was once again another truly magic day and I for one thank them one thousand times over. Until next year, ruralflyingdoc at Parliament House, signing off.


DISCLAIMER: If any of Part 1 or 2 of this BNL summary ends up in Mr Amit Vohra’s GPRA report, then I am not pressing charges. He will however be buying me drinks for the entirety of GPET 2013….

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Filed under BNL, General Practice, GPRA, Health Policy, Rural GP

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