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AGPT pathway stories

Hear from our GP trainees enrolled in the AGPT program about their experiences and the pathway they've chosen.
Dr Suzanne Davies
Recently-fellowed GP and MCCC Medical Educator

I first decided I wanted to do general practice during a medical school placement, where I was allocated to one practice for an entire year. During this time, I developed a greater understanding of the breadth of general practice. I was attracted to the diverse range of presentations, the wide skill-set required and the opportunity for continuity of care.

Following hospital years, entering GP training presented challenges that I did not anticipate. I truly found the transition from hospital quite difficult at times! I was thankful to be linked with MCCC staff who were kind and compassionate. When I asked for help, I received it. To be well supported by medical educators and the training provider more broadly is invaluable and made such a difference to my training experience.

Thanks to MCCC’s excellent quality of education, training and assistance, I received fellowship at the beginning of 2021. I am now working part time in general practice and as a medical educator. It is an absolute privilege to use my skills to not only help my patients, but to also support, guide and educate the future of general practice.

 To be well supported by medical educators and the training provider more broadly is invaluable and made such a difference to my training experience.

 

I feel really lucky to have been able to develop and nurture skills outside of medicine – working in clinical practice part time means that I have the capacity and energy to pursue other things that are really important to me.

Dr Amanda Cohn
RACGP – Rural pathway GP trainee, Senior Registrar Liaison Officer and Deputy Mayor of Albury

I moved to Albury-Wodonga as a medical student for placement with the rural clinical school and fell in love with this region straight away.  Besides being a beautiful place to live and enjoy the outdoors, I have been so well supported by local doctors and educators who are genuinely invested in providing the best learning opportunities. As an MCCC registrar on the rural pathway, I’ve been able to do all of my training in the same town, which has been really valuable in providing stability for my personal life, without having to move every 6 or 12 months.

I feel really lucky to have been able to develop and nurture skills outside of medicine – working in clinical practice part time means that I have the capacity and energy to pursue other things that are really important to me. I’ve really appreciated the flexibility of GP training with MCCC, and have felt well supported in balancing my training part-time with my non-clinical interests.

I’ve had some incredible opportunities to make a real difference to the lives of my patients and others in our community.  Working in the ED as a resident, I saw firsthand the impacts of family and domestic violence. I was able to join the Border Domestic Violence Network, a grassroots local network of service providers and people with lived experience of family violence working on prevention and advocacy for systemic change.  I’ve since been elected Chair of the network and it’s so rewarding to be able to advocate on behalf of the patients that keep me up at night wondering if they are safe.

In 2016, I was elected Deputy Mayor of Albury, and I’ve been able to apply the insights I’ve gained into people’s lives as their GP to building a healthier community, from active transport infrastructure to green spaces and inclusion of diversity.  Working as a GP is an incredible privilege – people will share things that their GP that they might never share with anyone else.

I also find it empowering to be able to manage whatever comes through the door rather than just one particular aspect of medicine.  During my time as a GP registrar, I’ve been able to complete ACEM’s Certificate of Emergency Medicine as well as teach medical students, complete and supervise research, and hone my advocacy and communication skills as a Registrar Liaison Officer (RLO) for MCCC. The RLO role with MCCC is both paid and accredited training time – it’s great that MCCC supports registrars to utilise as well as further develop non-clinical skills in roles like this one and Registrar Medical Educator.

Dr Laura Nield
RACGP – Rural pathway GP trainee and Registrar Medical Educator

General practice was always the end-goal for me, but I’ve arrived with a few stops along the way. Growing up in the small country town of Balranald NSW, I was driven to study medicine knowing how much of a gap there is in the provision of rural healthcare.

I became interested in psychiatry during medical school and tailored my junior doctor years towards this however found that the aspects of my community mental health rotation that I most enjoyed was the continuity of care and holistic medicine — general practice bread & butter! Additionally, I seemed to enjoy all of my rotations during internship and residency, ranging from cardiology to paediatrics to women’s health. General practice has meant that I can practice in all those areas.

Applying for GP training via MCCC was a logical choice – not only was I able to move back to my home region for training, but with the AGPT hospital year I was able to go up to the Northern Territory and work in the Alice Springs Hospital for 12 months, all of which counted towards my GP training time and helped broaden my clinical experience.

I’ve been living and working in Mildura for the last 15 months, albeit ‘commuting’ a whole 15 minutes (!) out to Red Cliffs for work this year. The clinical work is so diverse and you can really manage as much or as little as you like. Being in Mildura was no barrier to obtaining the role of Registrar Medical Educator (RME) with MCCC – I am involved with the medical education team in providing teaching to the new GP registrars, through a mixture of Zoom webinars and face-to-face workshops in Bendigo or Ballarat.

Outside of medicine, I’ve just bought my first home, am involved in local environmental volunteer groups and an active member of the running and Parkrun community. Returning to my country roots, especially through general practice, has been one of the best things I have done and I encourage all to see what MCCC has to offer!

Dr-Laura-Nield

Applying for GP training via MCCC was a logical choice – not only was I able to move back to my home region for training, but with the AGPT hospital year I was able to go up to the Northern Territory and work in the Alice Springs Hospital for 12 months, all of which counted towards my GP training time and helped broaden my clinical experience.

 

Dr Chris Pring

I can’t think of any other training program or career that allows for this amount of variety and individualisation.

Dr Chris Pring
ACRRM – Rural generalist trainee

It wasn’t until the final year of my medical degree that I knew I wanted to become a rural GP. I had always been set on living and working in the country but had not been able to decide which specialty to train in.

Every time I started a new placement I would fall in love with that area of medicine and begin contemplating it as a career. The problem I had was that towards the end of each placement I would begin to grow restless and miss all the other aspects of medicine not covered by that specialty.

Frustrated by this, I decided to get out of the city and spend my six-week elective rotation in Omeo, which is a small town nestled in the middle of the Victorian Alps. The town clinic and hospital are run by a roster of dedicated locum GPs who spend weeks at a time being the only doctor within a few hours drive in any direction.

I was amazed at the knowledge and versatility held by each of these doctors, who might spend the morning managing antenatal care and chronic disease, and then spend the afternoon dealing with a farm accident resulting in a flail chest and urgent air retrieval. There seemed to be no aspect of medicine that wouldn’t be covered during the course of a regular day.

I was also taken aback by how grateful the community was for this care and how welcoming they were towards me – a lowly medical student. In the short time I was there I became quite proficient at barefoot bowls and Thursday night drinks at the local pub soon became a ritual. I also heard far more stories from patients about wild dogs and missing hikers than I had ever hoped to! By the end of my rotation I was genuinely upset to be leaving but for the first time knew that rural generalism was the career choice for me.

Since then I have spent time working in several towns in North East Victoria and have been able to mould my training through ACRRM in order to develop the skills and experiences needed to become a competent and adaptable rural GP.

I have completed an AST in anaesthetics and have also been able to explore my passion for medical education by being the Registrar Medical Educator for my regional training organisation MCCC GP Training. This enables me to spend my week jumping between clinic sessions, hospital ward rounds, anaesthetic lists, on-call shifts and running teaching sessions via online videoconferencing (thanks COVID-19!). I can’t think of any other training program or career that allows for this amount of variety and individualisation and for this reason I would strongly encourage all junior doctors to consider specialty training with ACRRM.

Dr Kane Treble
RACGP – Rural generalist trainee

I ended up in General Practice by mistake, but it turned out to be the best mistake of my life. After spending several years in the ACEM training program I was tired of never waking my son up or being able to put him to bed. I decided to take a year off and spend some time working in General Practice at the same clinic my wife was working at – she always seemed so happy and the practice were more than accommodating to walk me through the paperwork to get me started.

I had intended to only spend 12 months there, but quickly found the work to be the most rewarding experience I had ever had in medicine. Rather than patching together patients for admission or discharge, I was able to improve their health and actively prevent presentations to ED in the first place.

Working in the country, many acute presentations such as lacerations and fractures are still managed in the general practice setting and I quickly found my time as a GP registrar just as exciting and twice as rewarding as when I was in the nearby ED.

My fears of only seeing coughs and colds were replaced with the management and fine tuning of complex comorbidities and can say that my time as a GP registrar is incredibly intellectually stimulating. Working in the country, I also have the privilege of a wide variety of cases to manage and coordinate simply because the access to subspecialties is more restricted – but have found my medical peers incredibly supportive and always happy to answer calls from a country GP seeking support.

Likewise, my clinic were only too happy to guide me through the subsequent RACGP applications and foster my education as I move towards fellowship – plus, I get to wake my son every morning, and put him to bed every night!

Given the breadth of General Practice there are opportunities to explore your own interests – given my interests in critical care and preventative medicine I’ve even found myself as the coordinator for the regional Respiratory Assessment Clinic during the COVID-19 pandemic and also work as a COVID Project Management Officer at our hospital.

Even if you only do it for one year, time spent working in a rural setting will let you find out what kind of doctor you can be and set you up for the rest of your life. Give it a go!

Dr Kane Treble

My fears of only seeing coughs and colds were replaced with the management and fine tuning of complex comorbidities and can say that my time as a GP registrar is incredibly intellectually stimulating.

 

Dr Alyssa Vass

I think that’s the most amazing things about general practice – that even as registrar you can really focus on the parts of general practice that interest you the most and then the possibilities are endless for once you’ve Fellowed to go forward and really dig deep into the things that you’re most interested in.

Dr Alyssa Vass
RACGP – Academic GP trainee and general pathway fellow

I came to general practice quite late in my medical career and chose general practice mainly because of my interest in Indigenous Health. I’ve spent a lot of time living and working in the Northern Territory and actually doing a lot of non-clinical work as well as working at some of the hospitals up there.

I joined an Aboriginal Community Organisation and had the privilege of being able to go out to remote communities for quite extended periods of time over the few years I was there; I got to learn an Aboriginal language, Djamparrpuyŋu, from North East Arnhem Land and work with the communities out there developing health education resources in traditional languages which was just a remarkable experience of deeply learning culture, learning language – really understanding the challenges that Aboriginal people face when they are trying to engage with a health system that is often quite foreign to them because it is so different to traditional ways of understanding health and well-being.

That experience really taught me so much and really challenged me to think about ways that I could improve the way that I was delivering healthcare for Aboriginal people and I really felt that general practice was an opportunity to do that because general practice has such a focus on patient centeredness and holistic care and also delivering care in a community context which is essential for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their families.

[GP Training] has been great, I’ve been able to do my training with MCCC; they provide opportunity to do Aboriginal Health placements, which I’ve done this year at an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service. [The placement] has been a really rewarding, challenging, exciting opportunity to just learn so much that has not only helped me with my practice for Aboriginal patients but I’ve also learned a lot of skills that will keep me in good stead for any patients that I see in general practice.

I’ve also been lucky enough to combine my Aboriginal Health clinical placement with an academic post doing some research into Indigenous Health and Indigenous Health education, so I think that’s the most amazing things about general practice – that even as registrar you can really focus on the parts of general practice that interest you the most and then the possibilities are endless for once you’ve Fellowed to go forward and really dig deep into the things that you’re most interested in.

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