In a what proved a popular move, Assistant Minister for Health, Dr David Gillespie, travelled to Tasmania at the end of last month to announce that his Government was handing responsibility for selecting trainees in General Practice to the two relevant colleges.
From next year’s intake, potential GP trainees will apply directly to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) or the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM), who will be the gatekeepers of entry into the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program.
The move brings the colleges into line with the other specialist medical colleges, which have long selected their own trainees, and has been welcomed by the AMA. As with the other colleges, the cost of the selection process will now be met via an application fee.
Below, the two college presidents, Dr Bastian Seidel (RACGP) and Dr Ruth Stewart (ACRRM), explain why they welcome the opportunity to choose their own trainees, and outline some of the qualities they are seeking.
Bastian Seidel, President RACGP, writes:
We want only the most talented and committed doctors – the absolute best and brightest – to join our profession.
Allowing the profession to identify talented potential GP registrars, and recruit them into a postgraduate vocational training scheme, is a significant win. Who better to determine the best talent for the profession, than the profession itself?
By moving the responsibility of trainee selection across to the colleges, the principle of ‘for the profession – by the profession’ now also applies to the medical specialty of general practice. GPs are the largest medical profession in Australia and the cornerstone of our health system.
More than 90 per cent of Australian GPs are members of the RACGP. We represent both rural and metropolitan GPs, we do it with absolute pride and commitment, and we do it against a strong foundation of academic excellence.
The RACGP sets the standards for general practice in Australia, as well as the training curriculum.
All of these things considered, it makes complete sense that the profession is taking control of the selection process.
Commencing with entry for the 2018 intake, the RACGP selection process will better align selection to the knowledge, skills and attitudes required of an RACGP Fellow who is capable of practicing contextual and contemporary evidence based medicine, anywhere in Australia.
That’s why the RACGP has been tasked with leading the identification, selection and recruitment of highly talented registrars not only for metropolitan centres, but also for Australia’s regional, rural and remote areas.
The RACGP selection process is supported by contemporary best practice both within Australia and internationally. Capability and professionalism, two well-known quality predictors, will feature prominently.
The process recognises the Australian context, particularly in relation to resource availability, applicant numbers, geographical constraints, aspirations of candidates and government priorities.
GP training will continue to be delivered by accredited regional training organisations (RTOs), based on the RACGP’s curriculum. Our strong relationships with the Department of Health and the RTOs will be crucial in facilitating a robust, transparent and balanced process.
This is an exceptional win for our fabulous profession. It makes sense. It’s timely, it’s contemporary, and it further indicates that general practice is the new black.
Ruth Stewart, President ACCRM, writes:
The path to the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) fellowship has been cleared of obstructions.
In 2018 ACRRM will establish a direct relationship with doctors selected into Australian General Practice Training. ACRRM will use rural and remote doctor-specific criteria and processes to select trainees directly into our program.
Previously AGPT has not selected for rural and remote practice.
Luckily there have been dedicated and committed souls who have navigated their way through to fellowship of ACRRM despite the obstacles. Our rural and remote communities are benefiting already from the service of this new generation of rural doctors.
We believe that college selection into AGPT will see the emergence of a whole new generation of rural and remote doctors with the adventurous spirit skills and resilience to last the distance.
So how will ACRRM identify the rural doctors of the future? Welcome to the 5Cs criteria for ACRRM selection:
- Commitment to a career as a rural generalist;
- Capacity to acquire the right skills to become a FACRRM;
- Connection with rural communities;
- Commitment to meeting the needs of rural communities; and
- Characteristics associated with a successful rural career
ACRRM welcomes this opportunity make straight the pathway into rural and remote practice.
Bastian Seidel is a rural General Practitioner in Tasmania’s Huon Valley and a Clinical Professor at the University of Tasmania.
Ruth Stewart is a Senior Medical Officer on Thursday Island, Torres Strait, Associate Professor of Rural Medicine at James Cook University, and President of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine.