New training programs inspire next generation of rural GPs
8 March 2018
CQ Health has two intern placements in a new program leading the way to inspire more doctors to become rural general practitioners (GPs).
Queensland Country Practice successfully received funding from the federal government to offer community-based placements to junior doctors in six rural areas across Queensland.
Doctor Zhen Hong is one of the first interns to take part in the program. For seven weeks, he has lived and worked in Emerald.
It was providing great learning opportunities.
“Everyone has been really welcoming and willing to teach,” Dr Hong said. “You see a different side of patient care than at the hospital. You get to see what happens with patients after they’re discharged from the hospital, which is good for interns when they are discharging patients.”
While it’s too early for Dr Hong to know which direction he wants to take his medical career, he plans to enjoy his different rotations and to make the most of the variety of skills he will learn.
This is his first time living and working in a rural area, and he has enjoyed the social support offered through his colleagues at Emerald Medical Group.
“I’m the only intern in Emerald and having a supportive group of colleagues is really important,” he said. “Dr (Ewen) McPhee has been a great support.”
Ordinarily, interns experience life as a rural GP later in their career. This new program however introduces the experience earlier in their career paths.
Queensland Rural Medical Services Executive Director Dr Hwee Sin Chong said this early exposure could influence the career paths of junior doctors and address the nation-wide problem of recruiting suitably qualified medical officers in rural and remote areas.
“The program is funded by the Rural Junior Doctor Training Innovation Fund and is aimed at whetting the appetite of our post-graduate, year 1 interns,” Dr Chong said.
“Referred to as ‘iDocs’, these junior doctors are exposed to working and living in a rural community during the early stages of their careers with the hope that the experience will stimulate an interest in rural general practice as a career path.
“Whilst on rotation, doctors also have access to a series of online modules, specifically developed by the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine for junior doctors, so they are supported to practise safely and competently.”
Another four interns are scheduled to be rotated through Emerald this year as part of the program. Theodore Medical Practice is also participating in the new program.
Dr Zhen Hong with Dr Hillary Vincent, a GP at Emerald Medical Group