The COVID pandemic has thrust health services into the spotlight across the globe like never before. In particular, it is the frontline health workers – the GPs, nurses, paramedics and others – who have so bravely faced the crisis head on.
In Tasmania, our GPs and health workers have done an amazing job helping ensure that our state has avoided the horrific scenes currently playing out in Europe, North America and the UK.
As we look to transition from the containment strategy to a new strategy that focusses on vaccination as well as containment it will once again be our GPs at the forefront, especially with the roll out of the vaccine. Over the next few years Tasmanians will rely on their GP more than ever as we tackle the vaccination roll-out and hopefully the beginning of the end of the pandemic.
It is expected GPs will soon be able to apply to access and administer the vaccine to patients. This will see GPs with a central role in preparing the public and supporting vaccine uptake. The importance of this job cannot be understated or overlooked. It reminds us of the critical work done by GPs in the medical sector and the value of having well trained and experienced doctors working in general practice, and especially in rural and regional areas.
Tasmania has some of the best GPs in the country. But it’s not luck and it’s not entirely because Tasmania is such an amazing place to live, work and raise a family. Tasmania’s only training organisation dedicated to training GPs, General Practice Training Tasmania, is playing its part.
What most people probably don’t know is that to become a vocationally registered GP, doctors need to complete specialist training and receive practice supervision for three years. This is where General Practice Training Tasmania comes in. It is our job to provide innovative, best practice training to the highest national standards to develop outstanding GPs.
Just recently, 34 GP registrars began training with GPTT in GP practices around the State (a registrar is a university qualified medical doctor undertaking post-graduate training to be a GP).
At any one time, there are around 120 registrar GPs being trained by GPTT in Tasmania. Of our registrars just over half are based in the south, a further third in the north and the remaining 13 per cent in the North West.
The recent intake will be based right around the State in Scottsdale, George Town, Longford, Latrobe, Sorell and New Norfolk. Importantly, 75 per cent of the GPs we train choose to live and work in Tasmania, creating a stronger health system especially in regional communities. This retention of staff and local knowledge is one of our greatest strengths. It allows us to provide patients with the best possible care while ensuring our GPs have the most contemporary knowledge and practices.
As a training organisation we offer a positive registrar experience, highly regarded suites of practical skills workshops, integrated communication skills training and research opportunities.
We are the only Regional Training Organisation for GPs in Tasmania. Our mission is to provide quality training to sustain and strengthen General Practice and Primary Health Care in Tasmania. Without us, there would be no locally trained GPs in Tasmania and fewer GPs in the State overall.
The value of the model cannot be underestimated and has been noted by both our GPTT Registrars and their supervisors. Feedback suggests the program not only provides a great academic program but supports doctors to find their feet in General Practice.
We pride ourselves on being actively involved in all aspects of GP training and believe this results in well-chosen registrars, an adequate supply and distribution of registrars as well as experienced and motivated supervisors and medical educators.
In essence, it provides the organisational structure that enables excellence in GP training to occur. The role of GPs has arguably never been more important than it is right now.
We are one the verge of rolling out one of the most significant vaccination programs in our history and GPs will be at the forefront of this.
We need to guarantee the strength of this workforce and the quality of GPs around Tasmania.
We are proud of the role we have played so far in providing quality GP training and support and we look forward to this being able to continue for many years to come.
This story was originally published in the Weekend Examiner.