Advanced rural skills training: are recently qualified GPs using their procedural skills?
Citation: McKenzie A, Beaton N, Hollins J, Jukka C, Hollins A. Advanced rural skills training: are recently qualified GPs using their procedural skills? Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2013; 13: 2159. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au/articles/subviewnew.asp?ArticleID=2159 (Accessed 21 October 2017)
Introduction: The number of GPs providing procedural services in rural areas is declining; however, few studies have investigated issues directly relevant to recently qualified doctors. Limited published data and anecdotal reports in Australia suggest that a large proportion of doctors leave rural procedural practice soon after training. This study aimed to: (1) describe where GPs practice in the 5 years after advanced rural skills training; (2) describe the proportion of doctors using their advanced skills; (3) measure doctors’ ratings of the quality of support and how critical the year directly following training is in future career choices; and (4) measure the association between support and use of advanced skills.Key words: advanced skills, Australia, general practice, GP proceduralist, rural health workforce, vocational training.
Method: A cross-sectional, postal survey was undertaken of doctors who had completed advanced rural skills training in Queensland between 1995 and June 2009. Data were collected on a three-page, structured questionnaire. General practice colleges, the three Queensland regional training providers and one national training provider were approached in order to identify and mail questionnaires to eligible doctors. Descriptive statistics were prepared for practice history information, and attitudinal ratings. A χ2 test was used to analyse the association between support and use of skills.
Results: Sixty-one completed questionnaires were returned resulting in an unadjusted response rate of 51.7%. Respondents had completed a range of training posts: obstetrics and gynaecology (37.7%), anaesthetics (18%), anaesthetics and obstetrics and gynaecology (11.5%) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health (11.5%). Thirty-nine respondents (63.9%) were using skills related to their advanced training at the time of the study. In the first 5 years after training, the percentage of doctors using their advanced rural skills decreased from 75.4% to 61.1%. The year directly following advanced training was rated as ‘critical’ or ‘very critical’ in their future career choices by 68.9% of respondents. However, ratings of the quality of support received in that year were varied, with 21.4% reporting ‘very poor’ support. There was a statistically significant association between ratings of support in the year directly following training and the use of skills 3 years after training (χ2 = 8.715, df = 2, p = 0.013).
Conclusions: This study has shown that while the majority of doctors are using skills related to their advanced rural skills training, there is room for improvement through training and career planning support, extending formal support mechanisms into the first year after training, improving opportunities to use advanced skills and improving systems to re-engage doctors into procedural practice.
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