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Close to 30 GP registrars participated in a two-day educational regional workshop at the Grafton Base Hospital (GBH) last week to engage in a variety of interactive learning scenarios. Image: Emma Pritchard

GP registrars embrace country learning

Emma Pritchard


Grafton Base Hospital (GBH) hosted close to 30 GP registrars during their participation in a two-day regional educational workshop last week as they completed a variety of interactive activities set in emergency and non-emergency situations under the watchful supervision and support of industry professionals while taking their next progressive steps in their respective medical careers.

Presented by the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM), the regional educational workshop aims to support junior doctors and medical students who are considering working outside metropolitan locations.

Dr David Leaf, Regional Director of Training and Education NSW/ACT for ACRRM and an experienced rural generalist said the workshops are held up to 10 times per year, and last week was the first occasion they had been facilitated in the Clarence Valley.

“These workshops give our registrar doctors extra skills in certain procedures from managing really sick patients or implanting contraceptive devices, to stitching up skin lesions and assessing critical conditions,” he said.

“They are an opportunity for participants to engage in a variety of interactive learning scenarios that equip them with a broad range of qualities and abilities which enable them to provide the highest level of medical care to people living in rural and remote communities.”

Dr Leaf identified the reasons behind the shortage of doctors in rural and remote settings as multi-factorial, and explained metropolitan areas are also experiencing similar challenges.

He said the statistics should start to change over the next few years as the number of people entering GP training increases.

Dr Leaf said changing the location of medical school training has been influential in encouraging junior doctors and medical students to seek employment opportunities in rural and remote locations and said hosting educational workshops outside metropolitan centres opens up new pathways.

Archana Haria, a final year University of Wollongong medical student who has received longitudinal placement in Grafton for a year told the Clarence Valley Independent participating in the two-day workshop last week at GBH and Coffs Harbour Health Campus allowed her to glimpse into life as a rural generalist in a regional setting.

Describing her experience as “interesting and exciting”, Ms Haria said the workshop allowed her to connect with and meet different people from different places who are already progressing in their respective rural GP pathways, adding it has inspired her to broaden her horizons and explore opportunities to learn and work in rural and regional areas.

President of the Grafton Chamber of Commerce and Practice Manager of Ochre Medical Centre in Grafton Carol Pachos said it was a big coup for the region to host the event last week and said the need for GPs is substantial in many regional areas, including the Clarence Valley.

Describing access to GPs as something locals do not take for granted, Ms Pachos said Grafton and surrounding communities have so much to offer and need more healthcare workers right across the board.

“We appreciate the opportunity to showcase what we’ve got here in terms of education as well as general practice and hospital work,” she said to the GP registrars.

“Have we got room for you in the Clarence Valley, yes.”

Dr Annemarie Winters, Academic Lead Clarence Valley Training Hub from the University of Wollongong said they are focused on increasing the medical workforce throughout the region.

“The aim of these workshops is to immerse people in what medicine is like further away from the big city,” she said.

“Working in rural and regional areas is extremely rewarding.

“These types of interactive workshops show GP registrars what it is like to work here and how satisfying it is.

“Hopefully, we will continue to see their numbers grow.”