Regional Head of Education update
Usually, I talk about the weather events on the North Coast and while we have had our fair share of storms, the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccination program and the influx of cases to our region has been a greater challenge. Dealing with COVID-19 in a regional environment has its own set of challenges compared to the city, and I hope that you have felt supported by your practices and the GP Synergy team.
The registrar education program has continued online for this term for the safety of registrars, your practices and your regions. Similarly, CTV visits continue in an online format for the remainder of the year. We did manage to sneak in one face-to-face supervisor event in Coffs Harbour before Delta set in and we are hoping for our usual workshop format to be resumed next year for supervisors and registrars.
COVID-19 impact on training
With the impact of the rollercoaster that has been the COVID-19 pandemic for you all, we have asked registrars to reflect on their experiences particularly over the last few months to consider the implications for their training.
There are undoubtedly many beneficial learnings from COVID-19. However, there are also considerations relating to the reduced breadth of presentations seen by registrars, the impact of telehealth consultations and possible reduction in patient numbers. Registrars who believe that their training has been considerably impacted collectively in these aspects have the opportunity to initiate and utilise a COVID extension. This affords additional time to further obtain that general practice experience which was interrupted by the impact of COVID. Please encourage your registrar to discuss this with their medical educator if they think it may benefit them.
Well done in the recent exam cycle with the North Coast again doing above average nationally and within NSW/ACT. That is testimony to your quality in-practice supervision and teaching and the ME team who is there to support the registrar.
Practice and supervisor support team
Please do not forget about the supports that are available to you as supervisors. These supports are there to support you through this time, acknowledging the extraordinary challenges you have faced – please do utilise these.
Please remember get in contact with us early if there is anything you require help with – your Practice Liaison and Support Officer Rhonda O’Dell, the ME team or myself are here to help.
Finally, thank you as always for the amazing support you have continued to deliver over the year. Please know that without you, general practice training of the high standard we have come to expect would not be achievable.
Clinical Associate Professor Rashmi Sharma OAM | Regional Head of Education North Coast
2022.1 term dates
7 February 2022 – 7 August 2022
Wellbeing action report
Can you recommend a good book?
Our GPs in Training Wellbeing Committee is seeking your help – can you recommend a book that you found inspirational, helpful or that started a conversation about burnout, mental health or wellbeing?
2022.1 term placement key dates
Medicare provider number applications
The deadline for registrars to submit an application for Medicare provider numbers (MPNs) for the 2022.1 term is Friday 3 December to avoid MPN processing delays.
Medicare provider number check
If you are training a GP registrar in a GP term in 2022.1, please ensure they check the letter from Medicare advising them of their provider number approval.
Registrars should confirm that they been issued with a provider number with full billing rights before they commence billing patients. Registrars with refer and request rights will only be able to refer patients and request investigations for them, until a provider number with full billing rights is received.
Having a well-earned break over summer?
If you are taking leave don't forget to inform GP Synergy if there are no other supervisors available in the practice to meet the supervision requirements of your registrar. The relevant forms are available on GPRime.
RDAA 2021 Rural Doctor of the Year
Congratulations to GP supervisor Dr Hamish Steiner on being named Rural Doctors Association Australia 2021 Rural Doctor of the Year! Dr Steiner won our 2020 rural video competition showcasing Cooma, a town he has served for nearly 30 years.
Medical Educator Supervisor Portfolio (MESP) update
It is a pleasure to catch up with you again as 2021 draws to a close. I can’t believe we are in November and there are less than 8 weeks to go until Christmas.
What a year it’s been! And what a suite of new skills we have learnt. Who knew for example, that many of us would become experts at setting up vaccination hubs and donning and doffing PPE? I am always amazed at the flexibility and resilience of GPs. We adapt and change when we need to, which I think relates to the inherent nature of our work where each consultation may present a new and different problem requiring diverse approaches and varied management.
GP Supervisors are masters at adapting to change. An example of this is how quickly we have become adept at managing telehealth consultations and providing supervision for our registrars in new and unique circumstances
Of course, some things don’t change! We still need to assess and give feedback to our registrars in a more formal fashion when we do Initial Observation Sessions (IOSs) and Competency Assessments (CAs).
When we do these assessments we give verbal feedback to the registrar at the time of the observation. In addition, we provide written feedback on GPRime. As you are aware, the assessments go to the medical educator of the registrar to be reviewed and signed off before they are then viewed by the registrar themselves.
We know that the registrars really value the feedback provided. The immediate verbal feedback is spontaneous and in the moment. We can comment on something we saw, or an action that was observed. The feedback is descriptive rather than evaluative. We can ask about the registrar’s perceptions and feelings concerning the recent consult and focus on the behaviour.
When we give our written feedback our comments are more reflective. We have had time to think about what we saw and interpret behaviours in a more holistic way. It is still very important to focus on specific behaviours, where change is actionable, but we have had time to consider the overall guidance and resources we might share. Your written feedback is also very helpful for the registrar’s medical educator who is guiding the educational journey of the registrar.
You may have noticed that it is more common these days for a medical educator to contact you to ask for some more information concerning the assessments you have done. These requests are often to gain insight into what areas the registrar can work on for improvement, particularly so in these times of Programmatic Assessment when all formative assessment helps us to understand the educational progress of the registrar.
I would encourage you all to view the Supervisor Snippet recorded by Dr Skye Boughen that is in this newsletter. Skye provides, in three minutes, some wonderful tips on giving practical behaviour-based feedback to your registrars.
I would also recommend a webinar from the GP Supervisor Association titled 'Observing Your Registrar – refine your skill' by Dr Andy Morgan. The webinar provides helpful information that you can use during your direct observations of your registrars.
Many thanks for your ongoing commitment to teaching our next generation of GPs, as we look forward to a less disrupted year ahead. I’m looking forward to seeing you in person in 2022.
Dr Margaret Stellingwerff | Senior Medical Educator and and Medical Educator with Supervisor Portfolio Nepean, Western and Northern Sydney
Registrar feedback – striking the balance
Dr Skye Boughen, Senior Medical Educator and and Medical Educator with Supervisor Portfolio Western NSW, discusses giving practical feedback to your registrars to help them be the best GP they can be.
Meet two of the 2021 RACGP NSW/ACT award winners
Dr Karen Douglas - GP of the Year
Dr Karen Douglas is a GP at Terrigal and Avoca Beach Medical Centres (Hunter, Manning and Central Coast training subregion).
Dr Saif Alkadhi - GP Supervisor of the Year
Dr Saif Alkadhi is a GP supervisor based at Abermain Surgery in Abermain (Hunter, Manning and Central Coast training subregion).
Evaluating supervisor cultural education at GP Synergy
Evidence from the GP Synergy NSW & ACT Research and Evaluation Unit – each month we present findings from our work that may be of interest to registrars and their supervisors.
This year GP Synergy’s Evaluation Team has evaluated more than 150 supervisor and registrar educational activities to inform continuous improvement and ensure the highest standards of delivery are maintained.
For example, we’ve worked closely with GP Synergy’s Aboriginal Cultural Education Unit and the Director of Supervisor Education, to evaluate a new series of cultural awareness and educational events which aim to help supervisors engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients in a culturally safe manner and, in turn, guide their registrars to do likewise.
The first two sessions were webinars in June and October. The final face-to-face session will be included in the Supervisor Development Day workshop, rescheduled to 19 March 2022 due to COVID-19.
The first webinar, 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural safety – Beginning the cultural journey', was well-received. The evaluation survey response rate was high (98%), and supervisors offered feedback that was informative and constructive as follows.
What did you find most useful?
- 'Learning that often people don’t identify and won’t tell you about being Aboriginal. I didn’t realise it was an issue. How to help people feel more comfortable is important.'
- 'Understanding areas that my care may cause offence.'
- 'I will be more mindful of discussing the topics mentioned more explicitly rather than assuming the registrar is aware i.e. what trauma informed care is etc.'
- 'Historical context using cases, specific language recommendations, discussion of reasons for non-attendance, description of ways to overcome barriers to care, statistics on differences in treatment.”
What could be improved?
- 'Possibly some examples of inappropriate episodes of medical content with illustration of how to avoid offence and engage the Aboriginal person.'
- 'Next step strategies for managing challenges; how do we establish rapport if despite efforts we are unable to get the patient to engage?'
- 'I think this topic needs more time. An hour barely skimmed the surface and I feel the issues are too important and complex to be dealt with so quickly. We know we are not delivering best care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and I for one would like more time for more specific information.'
The evaluation report for the October webinar, 'Teaching registrars about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary care', will be available soon.
We encourage all who receive our evaluation surveys to participate. It’s important we hear from everyone involved in each activity evaluated, to ensure that any changes made to educational activities suit most GP supervisors and registrars.
If you are a supervisor who attended either of these cultural education events, please help us assess the impact of this webinar series by completing our survey (sent to you in early November). Your input is greatly appreciated!
For more information about evaluation contact Dr Linda Klein.
We continue to circulate information concerning the impact of COVID-19 on the training program, including the ongoing COVID-19 situation. This includes FAQs and changes to our face-to-face education program.
GP Synergy PD calendar
Make sure you don't miss an event or webinar by accessing the supervisor professional development calendar on our website.
External activity noticeboard
Explore a list of activities and online modules. This includes modules on children's health, dermatology, mental health, prescribing and more!
Need some help?
Find key GP Synergy contacts including Practice Liaison and Support Officers, Supervisor Liaison Officers and Medical Educators with a Supervisor Portfolio.