Tasmanian Rural Generalist Pathway Newsletter Edition 31 ( Dec 2020)

Coming up in 2021 – the Tasmanian Rural Health Conference

Save the date! (It’s an easy one to remember!) Saturday 20 March 2021

at the Rural Clinical School, Burnie and streaming live to venues around the state

Look out for more details and the full program in the next newsletter


In This Edition:

  • Director update
  • Registrar Rep update
  • Tas RG scholarship 2020 recipient – Alex Kear
  • RDAT rural registrar of the year
  • RDAT rural student of the year
  • Dr Jim Berryman – GP Supervisor of the year
  • Longitudinal opportunities for medical students and junior doctors
  • Profiling Queenstown – a great RG training destination
  • Our Healthcare Future and Tasmanian Health Workforce 2040 Report

Just Announced - Congratulations Aaron

ACRRM /RDAA Rural Registrar of the Year

Congratulations to Tasmanian Rural Generalist trainee Dr Aaron Hawkins is the recipient of the 2020 Rural Registrar of the Year Award, presented by the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), for demonstrating outstanding leadership and advocacy in the field of rural and remote medicine.

Dr Hawkins lives and works here on the North West of Tasmania, where he undertook ACRRM training providing RG services in the Smithton hospital and medical centre.  Dr Hawkins is currently undertaking his Advanced Specialised Training (AST) in mental health with the North West Adult Community Mental Health Services.

RDAA President Dr John Hall said “Dr Hawkins’ outstanding commitment to providing quality healthcare to the small community of Smithton is matched by his education to supporting colleagues as a Registrar Liaison Officer”

ACRRM President Dr Sarah Chalmers agreed.  “Dr Hawkins is a fine representative of our College and for the profession of Rural Generalism.  He has a real understanding of the demands of the profession, as well as the needs of his community” Dr Chalmers said.


From the Director

As we close the door on 2020 and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, bushfires and climate change, it’s good to reflect on how fortunate we are to live on this side of Bass Strait and in a state and a wealthy country with strong Public Health systems.  With guarded optimism for 2021, it’s also time for students and junior doctors – and indeed all health professionals - to consider what we have learnt from the crises of 2020 and consider what our workforce and health systems will need to adapt to in coming years.   I suspect we will need to move away from increasingly expensive and complex sub-specialty hospital focused medicine, and concentrate more on the areas of Health Education, Primary Health, Public Health, Population Health and General Practice.

So if you are thinking of pursuing a career in the highly rewarding area of Rural Generalist medicine or needing assistance to plan the next steps of your RG career, please don’t hesitate to contact Peter Arvier or Sharee Taylor via email tasrural.pathways@health.tas.gov.au

The TRGP is currently moving to a new governance structure and participating in a national information sharing group with other Coordination Units - so exciting times ahead as the whole National Rural Generalist Pathway continues to develop.

We’ll be taking a short break over Christmas and New Year and look forward to re-connecting with you all in early January and planning a very rewarding 2021.

With best wishes for Christmas and the New Year from the TRGP team around Tas – Peter, Sharee, Naomi, Allison and Kathie


From your Registrar Representative – Aaron Hawkins

The Tasmanian RG Pathway is changing – What does this mean for registrars?

If you’ve been following this newsletter over the last few months, you might be aware that the governance structure of the rural generalist pathway in Tasmania is changing. Funding under the National Partnership Agreement has concluded, and the RG pathway is transitioning to a new funding model as part of the National Rural Generalist Pathway.

The most visible change for registrars is that the new funding scheme will no longer be able to directly fund RMO or registrar training positions. This means the loss of some positions around the state in paediatrics, psychiatry and anaesthetics. We will continue to advocate for existing hospital positions being converted to RG training positions.

Junior doctors and students will continue to be represented in the new governance structure, with a registrar and student representative sitting on the new Collaborative group, replacing the old Rural Generalist Coordinating Council.

The future of rural generalist training in Tasmania

Looking towards the future with the prospect of the new National Rural Generalist Pathway, its worth reflecting on what are some key issues for registrars going forward:

  1. A pathway that is clear and easy to navigate is key. Rural generalist training in Australia (not just Tasmania) has the advantage of flexibility but this comes with some frustrating uncertainty at times in training! Hopefully the new pathway will be removing barriers and hoops to jump through for training, rather than adding to them.
  2. In Tasmania, expanding the opportunities post-fellowship is going to be paramount for the future. This is probably an area Tasmania has fallen behind some other states with opportunities for truly integrated rural generalist positions in special-interest areas are limited. The announcement from the Tasmanian Government that the Mersey will look at shifting to a rural generalist model is hopefully the sign of a big and bright future for rural generalism in Tassie.
  3. Finally, it is envisioned that in the future the rural generalist pathway will take students to work in remote communities, who get the opportunity to come back as interns/residents, then back again as registrars and hopefully return as fellows. This is already on its way to reality, with the junior doctor primary care placements a roaring success over the last few years.

The future is looking bright for rural generalism in Tasmania!

Dr Aaron Hawkins, Registrar Representative – Tasmanian Rural Generalist Coordinating Council


Tas. RG Scholarship Recipient – Alex Kear

Congratulations to graduating final year Rural Clinical School student, Alex Kear who was awarded a three-year Rural Generalist scholarship at a recent celebration dinner.  Alex will be commencing her intern year at the North West Regional Hospital in Burnie and we look forward to bringing you more news about Alex in 2021 and her interests in rural medicine as she settles into this new role

Congratulations to graduating final year Rural Clinical School student, Alex Kear who was awarded a three-year  Rural Generalist scholarship at a recent celebration dinner.  Alex will be commencing her intern year at the North West Regional Hospital in Burnie and we look forward to bringing you more news about Alex in 2021 and her interests in rural medicine as she settles into this new role.

Rural Doctors Association of Tasmania – Rural Registrar of the year

RDAT are pleased to announce that Dr Rob Dickson was the recipient of the 2020 Rural Registrar of the Year award.  Rob has now completed his ACRRM Fellowship which included gaining his Advanced Skills qualification in Emergency Medicine while working at the North West Regional Hospital.  Rob has also spent time working in Queenstown and Antarctica (while a registrar) and will be going south again soon as the medical officer on Macquarie Island.

Rural Doctors Association of Tasmania – Rural Student of the year

RDAT is also pleased to announce that the 2020 Rural Student of the Year award was presented to final year RCS student Alice Thompson at a recent celebration dinner. Alice has been an outstanding student during her time at the RCS and heads to the LGH in 2021 to start her intern year.

RACGP Supervisor of the Year and General Practice of the Year

Congratulations to Dr Jim Berryman and all the team at the Saunders St Clinic in Wynyard for winning the RACGP “2020 General Practice of the year” award and Jim also receiving the RACGP “GP Supervisor of the Year” award. Jim worked at the North West Regional Hospital when he and his family first moved to Tasmania 21 years ago. Set up a new general practice in Wynyard 11 years ago that has established an excellent reputation for student and registrar training – with a number of registrars joining the practice after achieving their GP Fellowship.  The practice is accredited for both FRACGP and FACRRM training.


Longitudinal opportunities for medical students and junior doctors interested in Rural Generalist practice

Plans are progressing to give medical students and junior doctors interested in Rural Generalist practice the opportunity to establish a longer-term association with northwest rural communities and rural general practices in Queenstown and King Island.   Final year students have been undertaking rotations to these communities for some years. With the recent addition of intern and PGY2 rural rotations funded through the Commonwealth Rural Junior Doctor Training Innovation Fund (RJDTIF), it is now possible to offer  junior doctors an opportunity to build on their student experiences in these communities, by returning there as part of their pre-vocational training.  In the longer term, it is hoped that similar opportunities will be available at other rural sites around Tasmania.

If this is of interest to you, feel free to contact Dr Peter Arvier at the Rural Generalist office in Burnie via email  tasrural.pathways@health.tas.gov.au or Karen Lowe at the Rural Clinical School via email rcsstudent.enquiries@utas.edu.au


Profiling Queenstown – a great Rural Generalist training destination!

Not so long ago, Queenstown was regarded as a dying mining town with an uncertain future.  But in recent years, the entire West Coast has become the focus of major wilderness and historical tourist interests, extreme mountain bike sports and supports a vibrant arts community. Queenstown is the commercial and administrative centre for the region and has provided significant hospital and other health services for many years.

A new hospital was built in the centre of town in 2005 adjacent to the General Practice rooms.  The hospital provides Emergency Medicine and Acute inpatient care as well as Aged Care,  Community Nursing and Allied Health Services.

There are currently three Rural Generalist doctors at the hospital including a training registrar.  The hospital also takes University of Tasmania medical students as well as intern and PGY2 doctors from NWRH for rural GP experience.

Feedback from students and junior doctors is overwhelmingly enthusiastic for the clinical experience, quality of teaching, the support from nursing and admin staff as well as the entire Queenstown community.

This photo is of Dr Dennis Pashen, Dr Rob Dickson with Carol Foss (in Rob’s words – ‘Practice Nurse Extraordinaire’!)

For more about opportunities in Queenstown, contact Dr Dennis Pashen at DPashen@ochrehealth.com.au


Our Healthcare Future and Tasmanian Health Workforce 2040 draft reports for consultation

These reports have just been made available and there is an expected emphasis on community care and the need for increasing the number of general practitioners and generalist practitioners in the Tasmanian health workforce.

The full report is available at Our Healthcare Future

Consultation forums are underway around the state and submissions are invited from any interested persons.

The closing date for written submissions is 15 January 2021 and can be sent via email to ourhealthcarefuture@health.tas.gov.au


Have you completed your FACRRM or FARGP in Tasmania?

Don’t forget to apply for your Tasmanian Rural Generalist Pathway Certificate of Completion


Current Vacancies

For all medical vacancies in the Tasmanian Health Service, please visit TAS Medical Vacancies

Note – Staff Specialist – Emergency Medicine, North West includes Rural Generalists

For THS Registrar Recruitment and other THS/DoH jobs, please visit www.jobs.tas.gov.au

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

For GP vacancies, please visit HRPlus


Events – 2021

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

Email tasrural.pathways@health.tas.gov.au to have your event included in the calendar.

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