GP surg­eries could be mo­bilised for stu­dents

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health - Adam Cress­well Health ed­i­tor

MED­I­CAL stu­dents could be taught in GP surg­eries in far greater num­bers than cur­rently oc­curs un­der a plan be­fore the fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to ex­pand com­mu­ni­ty­based med­i­cal train­ing.

Doc­tors back­ing the plan say a ‘‘ crit­i­cal short­age’’ of clin­i­cal teach­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties al­ready ex­ists within hos­pi­tals and other acute-care fa­cil­i­ties, and there is an ‘‘ ur­gent need for in­creased ca­pac­ity to train stu­dents’’ in a GP-style or com­mu­nity set­ting.

The plan — con­tained in rec­om­men­da­tions from a sum­mit of GP train­ing groups held last month — also pro­poses set­ting up a net­work of ‘‘ com­mu­nity clin­i­cal schools’’ at univer­sity med­i­cal schools. Th­ese would be mod­elled on the suc­cess­ful ex­ist­ing net­work of 14 rural clin­i­cal schools, which have grown from the orig­i­nal nine first funded by the fed­eral Gov­ern­ment in 2001.

Th­ese com­mu­nity cen­tres would ef­fec­tively be large clin­ics where stu­dents could be trained in a GP-style set­ting, see­ing a range of med­i­cal prob­lems not usu­ally en­coun­tered in hospi­tal wards where most un­der­grad­u­ate med­i­cal place­ments cur­rently take place.

GP reg­is­trars — qual­i­fied doc­tors un­der­go­ing fur­ther train­ing to be­come gen­eral prac­ti­tion­ers — would also help train stu­dents in the clin­ics.

Al­though reg­is­trars in spe­cial­ist dis­ci­plines rou­tinely train more ju­nior doc­tors in hos­pi­tals, GP reg­is­trars cur­rently do not do this be­cause GP train­ing is mostly done in small, private GP surg­eries, not in hos­pi­tals where ju­nior doc­tors mostly work.

The body that or­gan­ised the sum­mit, Gen­eral Prac­tice Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing, pre­sented the rec­om­men­da­tions to Fed­eral Health Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott on Fri­day last week.

GPET han­dles the fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s $80 mil­lion a year bud­get for train­ing GPs, dis­tribut­ing the money to a net­work of 21 re­gion­ally based train­ing providers.

A GPET doc­u­ment sum­maris­ing the sum­mit’s out­comes says the plan could pro­vide new op­por­tu­ni­ties for train­ing the ‘‘ tsunami’’ of med­i­cal stu­dents re­sult­ing from the fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s move to in­crease med­i­cal school places by 81 per cent by 2012. Many se­nior doc­tors are al­ready con­cerned that there will not be enough ca­pac­ity in pub­lic hos­pi­tals to su­per­vise and train th­ese ex­tra stu­dents.

GPET chair­man Si­mon Will­cock said it was also hoped the plan might ad­dress the na­tion­wide short­age of GPs by giv­ing more

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