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Reflecting on an inspiring day

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As a supervisor and a Medical Educator with Supervisor Portfolio (MESP) I recently attended the annual GP Synergy Supervisor Professional Development Day in Sydney. More than 380 GP supervisor colleagues attended from across NSW and ACT. One of the main benefits for me was the interaction with other GP supervisors, sharing their diverse experiences and insights on various aspects of, not only supervision, but life as a GP and work-life balance.

As a GP from the country it is still a little exciting to come to the city. The views through the big glass windows over Darling Harbour on the sunny winter’s day were glorious. The day started with a Welcome to Country from Uncle Charles Chicka Madden from Gadigal country who was a proud and positive man. Next was a welcome from our Director of Training Vanessa Moran with her usual enthusiasm and excitement.  She presented the 2018 GP Synergy Supervisor survey results showing the main reasons for supervising registrars. Not surprisingly for me the top reasons that were identified was not the money in doing it but the satisfaction of teaching, mentoring, and sharing experience and passing this on to the younger generation of GPs.

Dr Ros Bullock was the plenary session speaker and is a GP supervisor from Canowindra. She inspired us with her personal life journey through medicine, from John Flynn Scholarship recipient as a medical student in Maitland (SA) to her current life as a procedural GP doing endoscopies. She started her presentation with some beautiful images of hot air ballooning which is popular in her region and she weaved into her talk the analogy of how being a GP is sometimes comparable to captaining and flying such a craft – navigating changing winds and weather conditions and sometimes being a solo pilot are unavoidable.

Ros told us about her innovative team-based case management approach combining the GP, ambulance officers, nurses and other allied health workers in her town to address the needs of high-risk patients. She reflected on the issues facing rural general practice with ongoing workforce shortages and allowed us to look through a window into the life of a solo rural GP and we caught a glimpse of her big picture vision of rural general practice.

The first concurrent session I attended was Recognition, Resilience and Reflection and was co-presented by a team including Drs James Boyd, Max Graffen, Susan Wearne, and Skye Boughen. We learnt about how reflection improves our own learning, our skills as teachers and how we might support our registrars to be reflective learners. Stories and sharing of experiences unfolded from the participants as the session progressed and we considered our own work life balance pie charts.

The second concurrent session I attended after morning tea was Structuring teaching in the Practice presented by Drs James Best and Richard Griffiths. An entertaining skit as an opener was some light entertainment with Dr No Hope and supervisor James’ desperate attempt to develop a learning plan with him.  Practical tips from the supervisor toolkit were highlighted such as the supervision and teaching plan and informal teaching models including the one-minute preceptor, www-doc, and SNAPPS models.

The final concurrent session I attended was Sharing tips and tricks from the coal face led by Dr Rashmi Sharma. A number of difficult hypothetical registrar scenarios were presented and brainstormed. A variety of approaches were discussed from the participating supervisors and the group generated a list of their top ten tips. Overall the importance of the safety of registrars was highlighted, as well as the importance of collecting multi-source feedback and having a prepared and planned approach when giving feedback.

The final panel session was chaired by Professor Simon Wilcock with panelists Dr Ros Bullock, Dr Snehal Patel and Dr Claudia Long. Innovative strategies for teaching were discussed and Snehal gave us some tips about useful podcasts and other online resources for teaching clinical reasoning.

I left the day feeling revitalised to return home to general practice and my work as a supervisor and as a medical educator supporting our amazing supervisors across NSW and ACT.

Dr Rob Walsh | Senior Medical Educator