Dr Katie Fisher - GP Synergy

Dr Katie Fisher

Hunter, Manning & Central Coast

  • Applied for the 2023 AGPT program?

Dr Fisher is the 2021 recipient of the RACGP Foundation Charles Bridges-Webb Memorial Award and the 2021 NSW/ACT Dr Charlotte Hespe Research Award. Katie has had her first publication from her academic post published in Family Practice.

Tell us a little bit about your background.

When I started my academic post I was a GPT2 working at Mayfield Medical Connection in Newcastle. I was born and raised in Newcastle so it feels good to be back home after spending my university and residency years in Sydney. I’m the eldest of four children and live with my better half, Matt, who is currently undertaking his physician training at John Hunter Hospital.

Why did you decide to become a GP?

For me, it was all about the flexibility and lifestyle. Being able to choose my hours meant that I could enjoy life outside of work.

I also like the breadth of presentations that GP brings. Every day is different.

What attracted you to undertake an academic component to your training?

During university, I completed an independent research year in which I managed to publish two journal articles. I really enjoyed the research experience and it is something that I would like to pursue in my future career. I’m also really looking forward to being involved in teaching and mentoring medical students.

What is your research project about?

My research project is looking at GP registrars’ use of telehealth compared to in-person consultations following the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other aspects of billing practices, including bulk billing versus private billing and how prepared GP registrars are for billing as a result of their RTO’s education program.

This research is of particular importance as telehealth continues to be extended and will likely become a permanent part of our healthcare system. The aim of this project is to improve understanding of registrars’ telehealth use, which will assist teaching practices and RTOs in informing training and educational practice.

What have you learnt from your research? 

This project has helped me to develop and refine my research skills, from designing a research question through to writing up the results for publication, and everything in between. I look forward to being able to employ these skills in my future research endeavours.

More specifically, I have also learned about the history of telehealth use through my literature review and I was able to publish an editorial in Family Practice about the ways in which telehealth can impact upon health inequity, “The telehealth divide: health inequity during the COVID-19 pandemic”. This was my first publication in my academic post, so this was a big achievement for me.

In addition, I have gained skills as an educator, through teaching medical students at the University of Newcastle, and I look forward to being involved in more teaching opportunities in the future.

What was your motivation for the project?

In March 2020, at the start of my GP registrar training, telehealth consultations were introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was followed by a rapid transition from face-to-face to telephone and video consultations, and was a significant adjustment for both registrars and experienced GPs. This shift in the primary care landscape motivated me to explore the use of telehealth amongst GP registrars, specifically how much telehealth was being performed and what factors made it more likely to be employed?

Is your research project part of a larger research project or a stand-alone research?

My research project is part of the ReCEnT study led by Professor Parker Magin. ReCEnT is a study that most GP registrars would be familiar with, as it collects data from GP registrar consultations across Australia. My project fits into this study as it will focus on the billing aspect of GP registrar consultations and will also be publishing data on telehealth uptake by registrars.

What do you see as the benefits, both to yourself, and generally, of undertaking an academic component in your GP training?

I think there are a myriad of benefits to undertaking an academic post in GP training. First and foremost, I believe that the experience teaches GPs evidence-based medicine and how to critically appraise literature. I think this is particularly important now, when we’re seeing some of the highest research outputs of all time, particularly in the wake of COVID-19. It’s important that GPs have the necessary to skills to appraise these studies and understand how they apply to their patients and community.

An academic post also gives GPs the necessary skills to conduct a research project, by understanding the steps involved and how to create a rigorous study methodology. I think this is incredibly important for GP registrars, who may not be as exposed to research in their community placements as their hospital-based trainee counterparts.

In addition, learning how to teach effectively is an important skill for all GPs, particularly those working in teaching practices. This post was beneficial in teaching me how to engage students in learning and foster group discussion, which I feel is more valuable than more didactic teaching styles.

I think an academic post is for everyone, but particularly those registrars who want to be more involved in research and teaching in the future.


To learn more about academic posts visit the Academic research page on our website.

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