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The Rural Junior Doctor Training Innovation Fund supporting the National Rural Generalist Pathway (RJDTIF-RG) program successfully enabled 15 WA Country Health Service (WACHS) junior doctors to complete a rural primary care rotation for 10-11 weeks in 2022.  

The program was run by WACHS through the Rural Generalist Pathway WA Coordination Unit. 

The program worked closely with rural primary care providers, like Pioneer Health Albany, South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS), Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) to offer community primary care placements.  

Dr Alec Disley, a Resident Medical Officer at Albany Health Campus, undertook his 11-week rural primary care rotation at Pioneer Health Albany. The rotation offered a strong focus on women’s health, including attendance at the hospital for deliveries, neonatal checks and postnatal care.  

While reflecting on his time in the program, Dr Disley acknowledged the unique nature of the rotation.

“The women’s health rotation has been a great experience for me. I gained exposure to a range of health issues and have grown my confidence in this area of medicine,” Dr Disley said.  

Dr Disley said undertaking the rotation gave him a good insight into rural practice and confirmed his desire to work as a General Practitioner (GP) or Rural Generalist in Albany in the future.  

“It was a great privilege to work closely with many experienced GP Obstetricians. I feel this has been an invaluable step in my journey to pursuing a career as a Rural Generalist,” he added.  

Dr Michelle dos Santos, a Resident Medical Officer at Bunbury Regional Hospital, undertook her RJDTIF-RG placement at SWAMS.  

Dr dos Santos said she had a busy rotation, seeing patients of varying ages and care needs.  

“There were so many different presentations and demographics. One appointment could be a three-week-old baby and the next an 80-year-old gentleman. I really enjoyed yarning with my patients and learnt a lot through their stories.”  

She also spoke highly of the interprofessional team she worked with.  

“It’s been nice working with a good team including the GPs who have provided a lot of teaching and education. They are a wealth of information, experience and support. I’ve also learnt so much from the nurse practitioners who work specifically in diabetes and sexual health,” she added. 

While the RJDTIF-RG program was aimed at doctors intending to pursue a career as a rural GP or Rural Generalist, Dr dos Santos said it provided valuable experience even to those planning to do non-GP specialist training.  

“Working with patients in a GP setting has made me feel more involved in the local community. I would recommend this placement to anyone, even if GP is not their intended future career path.” 

The RJDTIF-RG program was made possible through funding from the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care and the support of the participating rural primary care providers.  

From January 2023, the RJDTIF-RG program has been replaced by the John Flynn Prevocational Doctor Program (JFPDP).  

The goals of this program are to: 

  • build prevocational junior doctors’ confidence, exposure and interest in rural general practice/rural generalist medicine 
  • increase recruitment and retention of medical graduates and prevocational junior doctors in rural medical practice
  • have a greater uptake of rural generalist vocational training
  • strengthen the rural training pathway for general practice and rural generalist medicine
  • provide patients in rural, regional and remote areas with a more stable locally trained workforce by increasing the delivery of health services. 

 The JFPDP is open to WACHS-employed junior doctors, with priority given to those planning a career as a rural GP or Rural Generalist.  

To find out more about the program and if you are eligible, speak to your local Medical Education Unit or contact the Rural Generalist Pathway WA Coordination Unit on (08) 6553 0873, or email: [email protected].      

Considering a career in country health? Living and working in regional WA is full of opportunities. Find out more about joining the WA Country Health Service team. 

Acknowledgement of Country