Left to right: Dr William Wong, Sarah Boyd

Left to right: Dr William Wong, Sarah Boyd

National Rural Generalist Program (NRGP)

The National Rural Generalist Taskforce was established in May 2018 and released advice to guide the development of a national training pathway for Rural Generalists, and to harness the broad-based expertise of the rural health section. The National Rural Generalist Pathway aims to develop and implement a continuous and integrated Rural Training Pathway, adaptable to different jurisdictions and regionally driven, which attracts, develops and retains more students and trainees to rural medical training pathways who have a range of skills and scope which address the needs of Australia’s regions and towns and improves access to a wider range of medical services for rural communities and improving health, social and economic outcomes.

The Rural Generalist Program South Australian (RGPSA) receives funding from the Australian Government and aligns with the National Rural Generalist Pathway, however South Australia has a range of variables that need to be considered, such as state junior medical workforce influences, the construct of rural postgraduate medical training programs and the unique geographical and demographical make up of SA.

With key objectives of attraction and retention, the RGPSA will provide a mechanism for engaging trainees interested in, or committed to Rural Generalism  commencing at the postgraduate stage or beyond (PGY2+) subject to a trainee’s successful entry to a GP training program or demonstrated commitment to rural medicine, along with ongoing supports to encourage retention of trainees in rural areas long term.

Left to right: Dr Zhong Ren Ong, Peter Burns, Dr William Wong

Left to right: Dr Zhong Ren Ong, Peter Burns, Dr William Wong

Increasing rural based medical training positions

Recent research undertaken by the University of Adelaide through the Medical Speciality Decision-making Study (2020), shows there have been declining numbers of applications for rural AGPT pathway program with a 28% decrease between 2016 and 2019. With general practice registrars making up 25% of the medical workforce in rural South Australia this will have implications for future capacity of service delivery to rural and remote communities. Difficulties have also been experienced in recruiting general practitioners to work in rural and remote areas.

The Rural Generalist Program South Australia has already overseen an increase in medical training positions in regional and rural areas, including more full time rural based training positions and  rural rotations for metropolitan based junior doctors. Our regional local health networks have worked hard to establish the current four rural training networks  (Limestone Coast, Flinders and Upper North, Eyre and Far North and Riverland Academy of Clinical Excellence) with a variety of training being offered from internships through to advanced skills training for both vocational trainees and Fellowed GPs. Barossa Hills Fleurieu will commence as a training network in 2024 with Yorke and Northern aiming to commence in 2025.

Governance and Stakeholders

The RGPSA is governed by the RGPSA Steering Committee with representatives of key stakeholders who will lead and guide the strategic direction and will monitor and oversee the state-wide implementation of the RGPSA.

RGPSA Stakeholders and Steering Group members are:

Dr Mike Beckoff, Chair and Clinical Lead, RGCU Lyn Poole, CEO – Rural Doctors Workforce Agency
Dr Angela Travis, Clinical Advisor – Emergency, RGCU Stephanie Clota, CEO – GPEx
Dr Kris Bascomb, Clinical Advisor – Obstetrics, RGCU Dr Carrie McKenzie, Medical Director Regional Training Hub- Flinders Rural and Remote Health SA
Dr Pete Gilchrist, Clinical Advisor – Anaesthetics, RGCU Dr Lucie Walters, Director – Adelaide Rural Clinical School
Julianne O’Connor, Chief Clinical Advisor – Rural Support Service, SA Health Prof Ruth Stewart, National Rural Health Commissioner
Kylee Nuss, Trainee Medical Officer Unit – Rural Support Service Dr Brian McKenny, Clinical Director, Mental Health, BHFLHN
Dr Ken Wanguhu, General Practitioner – Rural Faculty of the RACGP Dr Peter Rischbieth, President – Rural Doctors Association of SA (RDASA)
Reece Johnson, Training Network Coordinator (SA) – ACRRM Dr Hayden Cain, Australian Medical Association of SA
Prof Paul Worley, ED Clinical Innovation for RMCLHN Dr Peter Stuart, Director of Clinical Training, Barossa Hills Fleurieu LHN
Tamara Fishlock, Manager Medical Training – South Australian Medical Education & Training (SA MET)

Dr Jessica Farrar

Dr Jessica Farrar

Rural Generalist Coordination Unit

The Rural Generalist Coordination Unit sits in the Rural Support Service within SA Health that supports the six regional local health networks and will drive implementation of the Rural Generalist Program South Australian (RGPSA) under directions of the Steering Committee. The Rural Generalist Coordination Unit will:

  • Provide strategic support and advice to the regional local health networks in workforce planning to facilitate the delivery of the rural generalist training in rural health services and ensure expansion of training to meet workforce and community need
  • Coordinate and support recruitment of trainees into rural generalism training pathways
  • Liaise and collaborate with external agencies responsible for delivery of training and education
  • Ensure ongoing quality control of training delivery and assist in improving training outcomes and experiences of trainees across South Australia; and
  • Work to improve access and uptake to Rural Generalist training in rural and regional South Australia.

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