Dr Katie Fisher - GP Synergy

Dr Katie Fisher

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Hunter, Manning & Central Coast

Dr Fisher is the 2021 recipient of the RACGP Foundation Charles Bridges-Webb Memorial Award. The award recognises her academic project, undertaken in collaboration with Prof Parker Magin, Prof Mieke van Driel, Dr Andrew Davey, Dr Alison Fielding, and Ms Amanda Tapley. Dr Fisher presented her preliminary findings at the 2021 Australasian Association for Academic Primary Care (AAAPC) Annual Conference (August 12-13th) in a poster format.

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 was your motivation for the project?

When I first started working as a GP registrar, I found the billing process extremely complicated and confusing. It was a huge adjustment going from the hospital system (where I never had to think about finances!) to suddenly being solely responsible for what money I was bringing into the practice.

I also found that I really struggled with privately billing patients as a registrar, feeling that I wasn’t ‘worth’ what the patient was paying. I think that’s a common experience amongst registrars and it made me curious to know how other GP registrars bill.

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 undertaking an academic component as a GP registrar will be hugely beneficial in regards to evidence-based medicine. This post will improve my ability to critically evaluate medical literature, which will directly improve my clinical practice. This post will also benefit medical students through the teaching aspect and will also improve the medical community’s knowledge regarding GP registrar billing practices. I anticipate that this will be particularly helpful for practice owners and GP supervisors.


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