The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) new Rural Generalist Fellowship will deliver more highly trained specialist GPs with additional skills to rural and remote communities.
From July 1, 2022, the RACGP’s new Rural Generalist (RG) Fellowship will replace the Fellowship in Advance Rural General Practice or FARGP. This redevelopment of the RACGP’s Rural Generalist training includes strengthened emergency medicine training and additional rural skills training in areas such as anaesthetics, obstetrics, palliative care and more.
It’s a key milestone in advancing rural generalist medicine in Australia, and ensuring rural communities benefit from access to more highly trained specialist GPs with additional skills to broaden the range of locally available medical services.
RACGP Rural Chair Dr Michael Clements welcomed the transition as a positive step forward.
“This is a key milestone in the RACGP’s efforts to address the GP workforce shortage in rural and remote Australia, and to deliver more highly trained GPs to the communities that need them,” he said.
“As the largest representative body for rural GPs, the RACGP is committed to driving the changes needed to ensure sustainable general practice care in every community into the future.
“The RACGP has been working with the Rural Health Commissioner and Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) to have Rural Generalist Medicine formally recognised as a specialised field of practice.
“This change will remove barriers to training, help to ensure GPs with rural generalist qualifications are appropriately valued and remunerated, and make it a more attractive career choice.
“Our Rural Generalist Fellowship is designed to equip GPs with the additional skills that rural communities need.
“As a rural GP myself, I know all too well what entices people to rural general practice.
“Local GPs are an integral part of rural communities across Australia. Rural communities rely on their GP for the majority of their health and wellbeing needs, particularly when other specialist health services or hospital care are far away.
“This makes rural and remote general practice both challenging and highly rewarding. What I find most rewarding is the doctor-patient relationship and seeing the positive changes, such as the patient who successfully quits smoking, or takes the steps needed to manage their chronic condition.
“I encourage anyone thinking of a career in general practice to consider going rural and take on our new Rural Generalist Fellowship. It’s a career with limitless opportunities, you can take it wherever you want to go, not only in terms of where you choose to work but what medicine you practice, with so much variety and opportunities to specialise.
“I also want to stress that Australia needs both GPs with extended rural generalist skills, as well as rural GPs working to their full scope in community general practice, delivering holistic care to patients with a focus on preventative care and chronic disease management. Rural generalists and rural GPs often work together and have complementary skills that benefit rural communities.
“The RACGP trains all GPs to be rural ready, so they can work anywhere in Australia. So, if you’re considering a career in general practice, take a look at our training choices.”
The RACGP will support and encourage current GPs in training completing the FARGP to transition to the RG Fellowship, alternatively they have the choice to complete the FARGP.
FARGP graduates will also be invited to obtain the RG Fellowship via recognition of prior learning and experience.
The training requirements for the RG Fellowship are similar to the FARGP, with the core Emergency Medicine Training and Additional Rural Skills Training updated to align with the National Rural Generalist Program.
To ease the transition to the RG Fellowship, these curricula have been made available to FARGP registrars and practising GPs from the beginning of 2022.
Junior doctors can apply to undertake the RG Fellowship through the Australian General Practice Training Program (AGPT), with the RACGP’s next intake for applications to open from 8 August 2022.
GPs in training who are currently completing the Fellowship of the RACGP (FRACGP) can opt into the RG Fellowship at any point during their training.
Practising GPs with the FRACGP and significant rural general practice experience and procedural or non-procedural skills can also apply to obtain the Fellowship via recognition of prior learning and experience.