Their Stories

Alumni Connecting

12 November 2019

A strong attribute of the Australian Rural Leadership Program is the opportunity to network and learn with professionals from a diversity of rural industries. 

Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) approached the ARLF, looking for a representative to join a panel with broad community perspective to discuss access to regional, rural or remote health care services in their particular experience/context. 

Belinda Chambers (ARLP 24) attended the Rural Medicine Australia Conference and was involved in a forum discussion on access to services in the bush.

Susi Tegan (ARLP 9) is a Board Member of the ACRRM and chaired the forum.  Susi has provided an article on her experiences at this year’s conference. Please see below:

The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) is an accredited (by the Australian Medical Council (AMC)) Medical College. It sets professional medical standards for training, assessment, certification and continuing professional development in the specialty of general practice.

ACRRM is the only College in Australia dedicated to rural and remote medicine, and we play an important role in supporting junior doctors and medical students considering a career in rural medicine.

It is committed to delivering sustainable, high-quality health services to rural and remote communities by providing:

  • quality education programs
  • innovative support, and
  • strong representation for doctors who serve those communities
  • medical and health policy development and advocacy on behalf of rural and remote communities
  • workforce strategies

The award, Fellowship of the College, is unique. A FACRRM will give an individual doctor the confidence and competence to be the best rural generalist you can be.

As a Fellow they will receive full vocational recognition to utilise Medicare A1 item numbers for their patients and enjoy the freedom to practise unsupervised anywhere in Australia.

I really enjoyed meeting Belinda Chambers. It is well worthwhile to have Belinda,  as an ARLF graduate, on the panel. 

When I was participating in ARLP Course 9, it struck me that there are so many impressive “rural, remote and regional” individuals doing wonderful things, but that there are so many opportunities to work together for a stronger outcome and increased understanding of the intricacies and the issues faced by various economic and social sectors.

Why is health and medical care, prevention, disabilities and ageing separate from all other industries?

It seems odd that all these portfolios affect every aspect of society and economy.   

I used the panel opening as a really good opportunity to speak about what the ARLF and ARLFP was about, how it is of benefit to the greater rural community.

The panel made up of an allied health professional, two rural GPs, Belinda and a “community member” addressed the involvement of consumers/patients in determining what is needed, how we can increase health literacy, what groups should be involved in health and medical planning in communities and what issues might arise in each option. In addition, the future rural GP workforce was discussed, focusing on the issue of obstetrics, anaesthetics and emergency medicine which many rural GPs are trained in, due to limited specialist referral options and tyranny of distance. The fact that generation Y(Millenniums)  is different from past generations, men might like to be the primary at home carer, women would like to have their own career, or men and women change careers more often than other generations, are more mobile,  work part time, have home offices or work via distance on line has also affected medicine. It is very likely that the recruitment and retention of the local doctor will be more difficult as there may be less career options for the spouse (whichever sex), the distance form family is greater, the local school may not be where the parents which to send their children in secondary school and the lack of privacy or a real break, may not be available as often as one wishes.

However, there are also opportunities to think differently about careers, become more flexible in the approach taken in various career options.

The panel discussed what the role of the consumer /patient is in health care. This included;

  • increasing health literacy, 
  • asking the right questions, 
  • taking responsibility to work in partnership with the doctor or allied health practitioner to ensure good health and prevention in general, 
  • healing, care of children, partners and parents, 
  • demand for treatment or medication, when sometimes doing nothing is just as important
  • the issues of rural medical and allied health workforce shortages and planning
  • the changing face of community expectations
  • the changing face of doctors and allied health practitioner and family expectations and limitations
  • the role of industries, local government and community in health care and medical workforce planning
  • the role of rural training 

Pic: Belinda Chambers (2nd from right) with RMA19 conference delegates