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GPTT Training and COVID FAQs

Covid-19 and GP Training

Frequently Asked Questions and Resources

This guide addresses common questions relating to potential impacts of Covid-19 on general practice training.  We recommend that each registrar’s medical educator be contacted to discuss any concerns or planned variations to training.

 Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if I am unwell and/or diagnosed with COVID-19?

Registrars: If you are unwell and/or diagnosed with COVID-19, please seek medical attention. You will need to take time off to recover and to self-isolate as per the latest public health advice. Please be guided by public health about contacts you need to notify and do not return to work until you are well and public health advice is that you are safe to return.

Please discuss your sick leave with your practice/hospital management team. For hospital trainees and PEP participants sick leave pay will be dependent upon your contract. Registrars undertaking community placements, employed under the NTCER, are entitled to 5 days of paid sick leave and 10 days of paid annual leave (adjusted per FTE) per 6-month term.

Sick leave taken beyond the 5 days per 6 months is classified as Category 1 leave and is usually unpaid and pauses training time. You will need to complete a covid leave form or category 1 leave form (available on GPrime) and attach a medical certificate or Tasmania statutory declaration and email this to GPTT. Your medical educator or the DOET team are also available to assist and support you to understand your leave options and training requirements.

Supervisors: If you are away on sick leave please arrange for appropriate registrar supervision for their level of training while you recover. Ideally on site with another GPTT supervisor. Telephone support may be adequate depending on their level of training and whether other GPs are available on site. If no supervisor is available another GP in the practice can assist but please contact GPTT to notify of this temporary arrangement. If there is no appropriate supervision or you have concerns/questions please contact the DOET team at GPTT to discuss.

Working remotely:  In some circumstances it may be appropriate for registrars to work remotely during a period of covid-related isolation.  This will depend upon the registrar’s stage of training, prior work experience, suitability of remote set-up, registrar comfort and supervisor comfort.

Ordinary training standards apply with regard to supervisor responsibility for registrar and patient safety.  Registrars will need to be aware of who their clinical supervisor is each day and how to contact them.  There needs to be a plan in place for patients who are identified during telehealth appointments as requiring face to face review.  GPTT recommends that practices allocate some time at the end of each session/day for supervisor review of the day’s consultations.

Should I apply for a COVID-19 extension to training?

This extension is available where registrars are seeing a reduced breadth or number of patients, including reduced exposure to skills such as examination and procedures, or where supervision, teaching or assessment/feedback is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. See the AGPT guidelines for full details

https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/agpt-program-covid-19-support-policy-2020

The advantage of a COVID-19 extension is that this allows you to access additional training time (up to 6 months) with supervision and support without counting it towards your training time cap (please note that it cannot be applied for retrospectively, and once approved it cannot be reversed). Please be aware that if you have already begun exams, if you want to suspend your exam cycle you will need to apply to RACGP.

https://www.racgp.org.au/education/registrars/fellowship-pathways/policy-framework/policies/fellowship-exam-attempts

It is important that registrars record any impacts COVID-19 is having on their training or education program. This will help highlight any gaps in training and inform future learning. Please record any disruptions to training and fill in the covid extension form after discussing this with your medical educator at GPTT.

Forms for Covid leave and extension applications can be found on GPrime under ‘forms and documents’. Once completed please email to [email protected] along with any supporting documents.

Can I count telehealth, vaccination clinics or work from home towards my training?

Telehealth consulting has become a normal part of general practice, and it is important for registrars to develop skills in this area throughout their training.  It is not, however, considered comprehensive general practice experience and therefore care must be taken to ensure that trainees are not spending too much time consulting in this manner.

To ensure adequate exposure to comprehensive general practice, RACGP recommends that trainees limit their engagement in teleconsultations, respiratory clinics, and vaccination clinics to a maximum of 20% of their GP time over the course of their training.  It is expected that the majority of telehealth consulting will occur with trainees working on site in the GP surgery.

Where there are Public Health Orders to self- isolate at home, and the registrar is fit to practice, teleconsultation may be supported from home if adequate and reliable supervision, and a safe and appropriate set up is available, as outlined in the section above.

As PEP participants have a minimum number of clinical working hours in a wide scope of general practice, any vaccination clinics should be performed in addition to of these minimum requirements. For any further clarification contact your GPTT mentor.

Registrars are permitted to work additional hours in vaccine or respiratory clinics if they wish, i.e. hours that are not counted towards AGPT time requirements. Registrars must ensure it is safe for them to do additional hours from a Work Health and Safety, fatigue, and contractual perspective. There must also be appropriate supervision.

Please note that all GP registrars  involved in COVID vaccination or respiratory clinics are responsible for ensuring they meet all regulatory requirements, including completing any compulsory education and training, appropriate medical indemnity and Workcover. Registrars should also be adequately supervised so that they are confident to work in the service.

Supervisors/Practices: Ensuring your registrar is trained and supported in conducting telehealth consultations is important and should form part of your orientation and induction procedures. The RACGP has produced a guide: ‘Telehealth and supervision: A guide for GPs in training and their supervisors’ which provides a summary of considerations for both registrars and supervisors:

https://www.racgp.org.au/FSDEDEV/media/documents/Clinical%20Resources/Guidelines/Telehealth-guide-for-GPiT-and-supervisors.pdf

How are GPTT teaching and education events impacted?

At the commencement of 2022, GPTT converted all workshops, training meetings, evening training sessions, ECTVs/miniCEX visits, and site visits to remote delivery via Zoom.  Face to face delivery will be re-introduced as soon as this is deemed to be appropriate, based on changing Public Health recommendations.   Efforts will be made to ensure events are conducted in a COVID-safe manner and arrangements will be communicated with relevant parties prior to commencement. Anyone who is unable or uncomfortable attending a face to face event should discuss their situation with GPTT so that an alternative arrangement can be determined.  Please contact GPTT as soon as possible if you are unable to attend a scheduled event or training activity so that relevant staff and medical educators can be informed. Occasionally remote ECTVs/miniCEXs do not provide enough information and a further face to face session may be required in the future.

Please ensure that you read all GPTT correspondence as any changes to event delivery will be communicated via email.

Who else can I speak to?

If you are finding that this a difficult time please reach out. The GPTT medical educators and DOET team are here to support you. The DOET (Director of Education and Training) team can be contacted via email at [email protected] or by phoning the GPTT office on 62155000 during office hours. Urgent matters after-hours can be addressed by calling the Director Lisa Clarke on 62155011.

We also encourage you to seek the support of your own GP and health care team. Other services available to support you include

  • Life coach/counsellor: GPTT is able to fund up to 4 hours with this health professional.  This is a confidential service.  To request access please email either [email protected] or [email protected]
  • RACGP GP Support Program: Three free one-hour sessions with a psychologist face-to-face or by telephone. RACGP members also have access to counselling for traumatic incidents or crisis situations. This service is available 24 hours, seven days a week.
  • ACRRM: Complimentary access to ACRRM Employee Assistance Program for immediate confidential counselling support 24/7. Phone 1800 818 728 to access this member service.
  • Black Dog mental health resources: in helping deal with anxiety and stress related to COVID-19:  https://blackdoginstitute.org.au/coronavirus-anxiety-resources
  • Your own MDO may also have support options
  • Lifeline counselling: available 24/7 phone 131114
  • Beyond Blue: https://coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au/, online chat or phone 1800512348

 

Resource list

https://www.racgp.org.au/FSDEDEV/media/documents/Clinical%20Resources/Guidelines/Keeping-your-pratice-COVID-safe.pdf