A unique national GP training program that enables doctors to gain their specialist qualification in General Practice – while living and working as a doctor in a First Nations, rural or remote community – has assisted the recruitment of an additional much-needed doctor for Broome and Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
And thanks to additional Federal Government funding, a key element of the program is being expanded to recruit more doctors to communities with significant medical workforce shortages.
Dr Jarrad Lenegan is among 32 doctors who will be training with the Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) this year.
Funded by the Australian Government, RVTS delivers General Practice and Rural Generalist training for medical practitioners in First Nations, rural and remote communities throughout Australia.
Dr Lenegan was recruited under a collaborative approach by RVTS (through its Targeted Recruitment strategy), Fitzroy Valley Health Services and Broome Hospital, and WA Country Health Service – Kimberley.
He will be working at the Broome and Fitzroy Crossing hospitals while continuing his specialist GP training in the RVTS program.
The appointment is a major win for the Broome and Fitzroy Crossing communities, as Dr Lenegan will work there for the duration of his specialist GP training, and hopefully for many years beyond.
“The benefit of the RVTS program is that our doctors don’t need to leave their community to undertake their specialist GP training” RVTS CEO, Dr Pat Giddings, said. “They can access the latest evidence-based learning – and the latest advances in rural general practice – via intensive workshops, online training, webinars and regular interaction with experts in the field…all without having to move to another centre.
“For their community, this means continuity of medical services and patient care.
“It really is a win-win situation for the doctors and their communities.”
While the original aim of RVTS was to keep doctors in their communities by providing them with access to its remote training program, the Targeted Recruitment strategy (under which Dr Lenegan has been recruited) comes at it from another angle – offering access to the RVTS program as an additional incentive for a doctor to move to a community where medical workforce need is high.
Since the first appointment under its Targeted Recruitment pilot in 2018, RVTS has assisted the recruitment of 15 doctors to locations with high medical workforce need across Australia, supporting 20 communities including five Aboriginal Medical Services.
“Our efforts to build on this success will be bolstered by the Federal Government’s recent announcement of additional funding to expand our Targeted Recruitment pilot to more locations” Dr Giddings said. “We strongly welcome this additional funding for what has become a very successful program in delivering rural doctors to more communities.
“It has been very productive working with local agencies to secure Dr Lenegan’s placement.
“Through ongoing collaboration with rural health workforce agencies, we aim to secure better access to doctors for those living in the bush.”
RVTS has specialised in supporting doctors training in rural and remote communities for more than 20 years. In that time, it has supported 400 doctors who have delivered primary health care in more than 300 rural, remote and First Nations communities.
Dr Lenegan said the benefits of working and training as a doctor under the RVTS training model were significant.
“Dividing my training between Broome and Fitzroy Crossing is an ideal mix” he said.
“In Broome I work in the fast-pace of emergency, while in Fitzroy Crossing I get to build a long-term connection as the local GP.
“RVTS has provided me with a really unique training experience. I can work and develop as a GP in a really remote location such as Fitzroy Crossing, and can do so with plenty of support and teaching.”
RVTS is fully funded by the Australian Government.
Further information is available at www.rvts.org.au