Tasmanian Rural Generalist Pathway Newsletter Edition 25 (Oct-Nov 2019)

Save the date

Tasmanian Rural Health Conference 2020
“The Future of Rural Practice”
28-29 March at the UTAS Cradle Coast Campus Burnie


In This Edition:

  • Future Rural Generalist Dr Rob Dickson
  • Tasmanian Rural Health Conference 2020
  • University of Tasmania students receive RG scholarships
  • Palliative Care Additional/Advanced Skills
  • Rural Generalist Coordinating Council representative
  • New PGY2 RMO GP rotations
  • New MBS items

Future Rural Generalist – Dr Rob Dickson

Rob Dickson 1I am working as an ACRRM registrar on the Independent Pathway in Queenstown, Tasmania- a storied, prehistoric and rain-battered town which I never could have predicted that I would live in.  I studied medicine at UNSW but credit a John Flynn Placement to North Queensland as subtly seeding the vision that medicine could be more than inner city subspecialisation.  I spent my final two years at the Rural Clinical School in Wagga Wagga, did my early doctoring years in Orange and spent 18 months immersed in brilliant cultural diversity at Alice Springs Hospital.  At this point it was obvious that I wasn’t cut out for an urban postcode.Rob Dickson

Finding myself at the right place at the right time, I was very fortunate to obtain work with the Australian Antarctic Division.  The experience on the ice was reverential and empowering – both personally and professional.  However, the Antarctic population is slightly demographically skewed.  To complete the picture, Queenstown is providing me with ample helpings of ‘core business’ – ie paediatrics, women’s health, chronic disease, mental health, aged care, substance use and Centrelink paperwork. After quite a few itinerant years, I’m thoroughly enjoying the promise of consistency and community which Tasmania offers.  It’s an exciting time to be part of a generalist community.

Images - Dr Rob Dickson


Tasmanian Rural Health Conference 2020

We have confirmed that the new Tasmanian Minster for Health and Minister for Women, The Hon, Sarah Courtney MP will address and open the conference.  As a new minister, she has had an enormously busy task in becoming familiar with the multiple issues influencing the delivery of health care in Tasmania.  We are delighted she has the time to address the conference and look forward to hearing more about the future directions of health in the state.

Key note speaker

The TRHC2020 committee is also delighted that the Head of the School of Medicine and Director of the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, University of Tasmania Professor James Vickers, will be one of the key note presenters at the conference.

Professor of Pathology, James Vickers, said that Tasmania is recognised internationally as a leader in dementia research. Professor Vickers' research has focused on ways to maintain or improve plasticity of the brain.

Image - Professor James Vickers

Prof Vickers comments: “Dementia is arguably the public health issue of the 21st Century. Ageing is the biggest risk factor in developing dementia and our population is ageing. The good news is that researchers at the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre may have uncovered a way to stop the onset of dementia. Findings from a long-term prospective study show that actively using the brain could be the answer.  We are examining whether increasing the amount of study you do, will make you less likely to be at risk of serious ageing-related cognitive decline and dementia. In short, the saying ‘if you don't use it, you lose it’ seems to be very much the case here. Our findings to date are very promising.”

Advanced Life Support course at TRHC

The TRHC committee is also pleased to advise the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) will be running a one day Advanced Life Support course on Friday 27 March as a pre-conference workshop. This course is open to all GPs, registrars and junior doctors regardless of whether they are on a rural pathway or not. RDAT members will be eligible for a discount to participate in the course and General Practice Training Tasmania (GPTT) have reserved a number of places specifically for GP registrars to attend as part of the GP teaching program.

Further information on the Advanced Life Support course is available on the ACRRM website

More information on TRHC2020 is available on the conference website


Congratulations to our Rural Generalist Scholarship Recipients

Congratulations to the four University of Tasmania final year students who are the successful recipients of the latest round of RG Scholarships. These scholarships are valued at $15,000 paid incrementally as the students proceed through the early years of RG training. These students will all be undertaking their intern year at the North West Regional Hospital which will include a rural GP rotation to one of the accredited intern general practices in Tasmania.  As PGY2 doctors, they will also be guaranteed obtaining the hospital rotations necessary for core training for rural generalism.

A further article on these students and their thoughts on future rural practice will be published in the next newsletter.

Scholarship Recipients 2019

Images - Grace Waring, Angus Ewing, Frankie Williams and Kade Lynd


Palliative Care Additional/Advanced Skills Training

The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) has recently included Palliative Care as one of the options for 12 months Additional Skills/Advanced Specialised Training.  The steps for formal accreditation of the North West Palliative Care service to be recognised by both ACRRM and RACGP for such training are progressing.  This is in addition to the six months Extended Skills training that already exists.

Palliative Care is acknowledged as one of the areas of increasing demand in Tasmania. An expansion of the range of Rural Generalist training options in this discipline will be an important contribution to this service.


New Registrar Representative on the Rural Generalist Coordinating Council (RGCC)

The RGCC is pleased to advise that Dr Aaron Hawkins has recently been appointed as the registrar representative on the Council.  Aaron is currently a GP registrar working in Smithton which includes work in the local general practice as well as the Smithton Hospital and the local Aged Care Facility.  In 2020, Aaron will be undertaking his ACRRM Advanced Specialised Training in Mental Health with the North West Mental Health Service.

The RGCC is the body that provides advice and guidance to the Tasmanian RG pathway. The Council is chaired by Dr Allison Turnock and has representation from both ACRRM and RACGP, Tasmanian Health Service, University of Tasmania, General Practice Training Tas, Post Graduate Medical Council of Tasmania, Rural Doctors Association of Tasmania and the Rural Training Hub.

The Registrar representative on the Council represents and advocates for all registrars on rural pathways as well as reporting back to registrars on the deliberations of the Council.

Image - Dr Aaron Hawkins


New PGY 2 RMO rotations to General Practice

PGY 2 RMO rotations to Scottsdale and East Devonport GP practices are already established and receiving excellent feedback from the practices and the RMOs undertaking these rotations.  From 2020, there will be three additional practices taking PGY 2 RMOs.  These are expected to be at St Helens, Huonville and Don Medical Clinic in Devonport.  The new rotations will be managed by Ochre Health, like the intern rotations that are also part of the Rural Junior Doctor Training Innovation Fund.

With five practices already supporting intern GP rotations, and now five PGY2 RMO rotations now available, this adds strength and depth to the continuity of GP training for junior doctors embarking on rural generalist training.


New MBS items for telehealth video consultations in MMM 6 and 7 areas

New MBS items for telehealth video consultations will be introduced on 1 November 2019. The new items will be available to GPs and non-specialist medical practitioners. Eligible patients will:

  • Be living in a MMM 6 or 7 area
  • Have received three face-to-face professional attendances in the preceding twelve months from the practitioner who will provide the telehealth service; and
  • At the time of the consultation, be at least 15 kilometres by road from the practitioner.

More information is available at MBS Online.


Current Vacancies

For THS Registrar Recruitment and other THS/DoH jobs, please visit the Tasmanian Government Jobs website

For GP registrar placements through GPTT, refer to the GPTT placement process information

For GP vacancies, please visit HRPlus


Events – 2019/2020

Check out the Tasmanian Rural Generalist Pathway calendar for events of interest to rural practitioners.

Email rural pathways to have your event included in the calendar.

October 23-27: RDAA/ACRRM Rural Medicine Australia 2019 Conference, Gold Coast.

October 24-26: RACGP Annual Conference GP19, Adelaide.

March 28-29 2020: Tasmanian Rural Health Conference, Burnie Tasmania.


This project is funded by the Australian Government through the National Partnership Agreement on improving Health Services in Tasmania.