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A phoenix arises in Brisbane?

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I have recently had the somewhat sorry privilege of attending the final General Practice Education and Training (GPET) convention.

It was held at the Royal International Convention Centre at the Brisbane Showground, a site which certainly reinforces the impression that Brisbane is a supersized country town as one gazes out from the forum’s foyer over the cattle sheds.

The presentations and discussion groups were of a high standard, and a good learning experience for an ageing but L-plated dinosaur of a GP supervisor like me.

It was heartening to see the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine and Royal Australian College of General Practitioners leadership expressing a determination to work together, and with General Practice Registrars Australia, to find a solid solution to present to the Health Department about how to fill the void when GPET is wound up.

Common themes from the presentations of both RACGP President Dr Liz Marles and ACRRM President Associate Professor David Campbell were that the current apprenticeship system of GP training must continue, and that registrars must be given certainty of training pathways, while also maintaining a rural training scheme. Large corporates were not seen as part of the solution.

I somewhat uncertainly dragged myself along to the workshops on social media in medical education, and was hugely impressed by what is taking hold.

FOAMed (Free Open Access Medical Education) and many other sites may be in their infancy but they are the future and, in due time, will largely replace textbooks and didactic lectures.

The ability to learn in short bites from peers, whether by sound grabs in podcasts or via videos demonstrating procedures on You Tube is so user friendly it is a no-brainer. Toss in the ability to partake in online discussion groups and you have a great formula. This will help end feelings of isolation for many rural and remote doctors.

Social media is playing a large role in informing today’s medical students, and our patients likewise will rely on it increasingly for health information. We can ignore it at our peril or become informed, so we can guide patients and students to reliable sites.

A large thank you to my local training organisation for inviting me, and to GPET for the excellent quality of their educational sessions.

For Government to wipe GPET, which for 14 years has put so many runs on the board, seems idiotic. However, if something better can arise from the ashes with the profession taking ownership of GP training, it could be a change for the better.

Maybe we are witnessing the conception and birth of a phoenix, with the two GP Colleges as doting parents.

But let us give credit where it is due – GPET has done a great job and will be a hard act to follow.