National Rural Generalist Pathway
The National Rural Generalist Pathway (NRGP) aims to attract, develop and retain more rural generalists for rural communities. It seeks to provide a regionally driven focus adaptable to different community contexts and provide opportunities for training and skills development supporting the needs of regions and towns. It embraces Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander understandings of health, healthcare and decision-making (adapted from the National Rural Generalist Taskforce Advice to the National Rural Health Commissioner on the Development of the National Rural Generalist Pathway December 2018, p6)
Queensland has benefited from an established and successful rural generalist pathway which provides support and placement opportunities for rural generalist doctors in training for nearly 15 years. The details of this vocational pathway are available here.
The commencement of a national pathway offers Queensland the opportunity to expand on the progress achieved to date and work collaboratively with primary care and rural health representatives to further support and grow the rural generalist workforce.
The national pathway aims to:
- formally recognise the role and skills of rural generalists
- improve the coordination of rural generalist training
- increase support for rural generalists
- increase opportunities for doctors to train and practise in both hospital and primary care settings in regional, rural or remote communities
- keep doctors working in regional, rural or remote communities
(Commonwealth of Australia | Department of Health, 2021).
The NRGP will have a different approach and focus in each state and territory as the needs and maturity are different in each jurisdiction. In Queensland, the NRGP will focus on post-fellowship support by engaging and supporting qualified and interested rural general practitioners to engage in hospital and primary care settings and undertake or refresh training to support the delivery of skills and services needed locally. This seeks to improve rural generalist training opportunities and service provision for the benefit of rural communities and will include objectives important to recently surveyed Queensland rural doctors including:
- Connecting primary and secondary care
- Valuing a rural career
- Supporting training and education in a rural area
- Valuing rural general practice
(from Post Fellowship Support Framework for Rural Doctors A Queensland Pilot Project February 2021).
The National Rural Generalist Pathway coordination unit in Queensland is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Health.
Are you a rural doctor looking to upskill or refresh an existing skill set? Or are you working in one component of rural health service delivery in your current location and wish to work across settings?
Have you recently become interested in rural practice and don’t know how to find out more about pursuing a career as a rural generalist?
Are you looking to do some short term work in rural practice?
The NRGP team is here to answer your questions and offer tailored support to help you navigate your rural career.
We can assist with:
Advanced Skills Training
Advanced Skills Training opportunities in disciplines such as obstetrics, mental health, paediatrics, internal medicine and anaesthetics are coordinated through our Queensland Rural Generalist Pathway AST recruitment campaign. If you’re interested in Indigenous health, population health, emergency medicine or another advanced skill, we can help direct you to information about the opportunities available and how to apply. Visit the Contact Us page to get in touch.
The senior medical relief program is administered by Queensland Country Practice (QCP) and provides short and medium term placement services for experienced senior medical officers across Queensland.
For more information on the benefits and opportunities for relief placements contact Medical_Relief_QCP@health.qld.gov.au or phone: (07) 3199 3959
The NRGP team is working to streamline the upskilling process for rural generalists. If you would like support with your upskilling placement, get in touch via the Contact Us page.
General Practice, primary care, AMS work
Are you interested in expanding your community care in general practice, Aboriginal Medical Services or RFDS clinics? A world of opportunity exists out there for effective rural primary care delivery. Contact us to explore options in your region.
Career support for vocationally registered doctors enquiring about Rural Generalist practice
Give us a call and we will have a senior advisor get in contact and workshop ideas with you.
In mid-2020, all jurisdictions received funding for Coordination Units from the Commonwealth Government as part of the National Rural Generalist Pathway.
Between July and December 2020, Queensland Rural Medical Service (QRMS) engaged Health Workforce Queensland (HWQ) in a collaborative pilot project for post fellowship support in Queensland.
The aim of the pilot project was to gather information that will aid the design of the framework to support rural doctors post-fellowship across primary and secondary service domains. Furthermore, it will assist current and future medical practitioners to meet the needs of rural and remote communities under the national definition of a Rural Generalist as outlined in the Collingrove Agreement:
Rural Generalist (RG) is a medical practitioner who is trained to meet the specific current and future health care needs of Australian Rural and Remote Communities, in a sustainable and cost-effective way, by providing both comprehensive general practice and emergency care, and required components of other medical specialist care in hospital and community settings as part of a rural healthcare team (Collingrove Agreement 2018).
The final project report is available here.
QRMS has now finalised arrangements with the Australian Government to further explore and progress the pilot project findings as part of the Government’s National Rural Generalist Pathway commitment and investment. QRMS will be developing collaborative leadership models with industry stakeholders and individuals to progress the work needed to enable flexible, supported and integrated rural generalist practice.
Focus areas will include:
- Supporting new rural primary care rotations through the Rural Junior Doctor Training Innovation Fund – Rural Generalist initiative
- Increasing the support available to GPs wishing to extend their scope of practice into rural generalist medicine
- Investigating opportunities to flexibly deliver post graduate additional skills and advanced skills training closer to home
- Working with the profession to determine and streamline upskilling and skills maintenance requirements and processes
- Working with health services and practices to optimise integrated workforce models for the benefit of the communities they serve.
Project updates will be available here as work progresses.
There are many organisations involved in the coordination and delivery of rural generalist services in Queensland. You can find out more about each entity by clicking on the links below.
Dr Hwee Sin Chong
Dr Hwee Sin Chong first commenced in Toowoomba as the Deputy Director of Medical Services for Darling Downs Health in 2011, bringing with her several years of experience in medical management across a range of roles in the public and private health sector.
In 2014, she was appointed to the role of Executive Director Medical Services for the health service, and then in 2017 was selected as the new Executive Director of the then named Rural and Remote Medical Support (now known as the Queensland Rural Medical Service). In this role Dr Chong is responsible for medical professional leadership and the development of strategies to enhance the delivery of rural and remote medical workforce services across Queensland, which includes the Queensland Rural Generalist Program. She is also responsible for five other State-wide vocational training pathways (Basic and Advanced General Adult Medicine, Basic and Advanced Paediatrics, and Intensive Care Medicine) and several other relieving services.
Dr Chong studied medicine in New Zealand, graduated from Otago University in 2005 and worked for several years in New Zealand before immigrating to Australia.
Dr Chong is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators and has a Master of Health Management and Master of International Public Health from the University of New South Wales.
Dr Dilip Dhupelia
Trained in Dublin, Ireland, Dilip immigrated to Queensland as a Resident at Toowoomba Base Hospital and subsequently Medical Superintendent at Millmerran (1978-1982). He then practised in Toowoomba (1982-2005) as a GP Obstetrician in a private capacity, during which time he also held positions as Toowoomba Local Medical Association President, GP Connections Chair (Toowoomba Division of General Practice), Chair of CheckUP Australia, Medical Director of University of Southern Queensland and was on the Management Advisory Panel when the UQ Rural Clinical School was being established in Toowoomba.
From 2006-2010, Dr Dhupelia worked for the Commonwealth Government as Senior Medical Advisor for Medicare Australia.
Dilip has a passion for rural health and returned to Queensland Health in 2010 to take up a position as Director of Medical and Clinical Services at Queensland Country Practice, a unit that is now part of Queensland Rural Medical Service – a Division within Darling Downs Health.
His current rural portfolio encompasses oversight of the Queensland and National Rural Generalist Pathways, the Rural Junior Doctors Training Innovation Fund Programs and the Post Fellowship Support Framework in Queensland. In addition, his role involves providing expertise to Queensland Hospital and Health Services on service and workforce design in rural areas throughout the state.
Dilip is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and his current Board activities include Chair of AMA Queensland Foundation and Director, General Practice Training Queensland. He is the Immediate Past President of AMA Queensland.
Dilip is currently Co-Chair of the NRGP Jurisdictional Implementation Forum, together with Martin Rocks, Assistant Secretary – Health Training Branch, Commonwealth Department of Health.
Dr John Douyere
John and his family moved to the Gold Coast in 2019 after 23 years working in Longreach as a rural generalist with obstetric and anaesthetic advanced skills. His current clinical practice is at Millmerran. After graduating from UQ in 1989 he spent time in Townsville, Ayr, Toowoomba, Charleville and Kilcoy before settling in Longreach. John’s wife Jayne is a radiographer and sonographer as well as being a keen amateur photographer. They have 2 adult sons.
The experience of living and working in rural communities for over 20 years has led to a passion for the support and development of medical services for rural Queensland. John is a strong believer in the importance of good general practice primary care services and innovative workforce models suited to individual communities.
As well as his advanced skills, John has an interest in skin cancer surgery, medical education and IT applications in rural practice. John is a CGT StAMPS examiner for ACRRM and a previous board member of TMT and Central West HHS.
When not at work John spends time restoring and racing classic American and Australian cars.
Deanne’s rural upbringing and experience of healthcare in that context has driven her passion for enabling the delivery of quality care close to home.
She joined the Queensland Rural Generalist Pathway in 2007 and has worked on education, recruitment and leadership initiatives designed to support the rural medical workforce and improve healthcare access and experiences for rural and remote Queenslanders.
She was appointed as the Manager of the QRGP in 2016 and has recently assumed management responsibility for the Queensland implementation of the National Rural Generalist Pathway.
Davin commenced in 1995 as a Registered Nurse working in a High Dependency Infectious Unit and then in Intensive Care before branching out into Nursing Informatics, though worked in Aged Care as an Assistant in Nurse whilst studying for his Bachelor of Nursing.
Since that time, he has broadened his portfolio with work in Information Services, Shared Services, Corporate Finance and project work in a number of other areas in Queensland Health.
He has long had a keen interest in how data can be used to inform managerial decisions particularly when there are challenges such as those in Rural Health.
The integrated private general practice project was established by Queensland Country Practice (incorporating Queensland’s jurisdictional coordination unit for the national Rural Generalist Program) to support the development and implementation of initiatives that share a common medical workforce to sustain both local general practices and rural hospitals.
The project has published a better practice guide that brings together existing policy and legislation that:
- enables Queensland Health medical officers to conduct private practice for their general practice patients,
- provides suggestions about building collaborations with local general practices,
- enables private GPs to consider hospital service, and
- offers guidance on establishing a HHS operated general practice.
The better practice guide explores how general practice and rural hospitals can integrate their workforce and service designs to better meet a community’s need and is available on the Rural Generalist internet site.
An online resource toolbox is also available on QHEPS (link accessible to QH staff) to assist HHSs currently exploring their involvement in collaborative general practice arrangements, providing important links, information sheets, tools and templates in topics such as:
- understanding Medicare and PBS rules,
- estimating earnings and workforce requirements for a business case,
- accrediting a general practice,
- doing business with Services Australia, and
- finance, IT and planning considerations for a HHS operated practice
You can access the guide here.
For more information please contact QRMS’ National Rural Generalist Pathway Medical Advisor, Dr John Douyere, via email@example.com or 1800 680 291.