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Incorporating academic research into GP training

4 September 2017

Dr Nadee Wickramasuriya encourages GP registrars to consider the benefits of undertaking an academic post.

Nadee studied and practiced medicine in Sri Lanka before moving to Australia in where she is undertaking general practice training in the Sunshine Coast region. She completed an academic post as a part of her training.

“I highly recommend registrars to consider undertaking an academic post. It will open a new door to your GP career, making you equipped with a variety of skills including research, teaching, presentation skills and better utilisation of evidence based medicine.”

An academic post usually takes 12 months to complete on a part-time basis, alongside a registrar’s general practice training, and helps build a foundation towards becoming a general practice academic or medical educator.

“I did two days of clinical work each week in addition to doing two and a half days of academic work involving research and teaching. It was a nice balance, I was never bored! I was always fresh and looking forward to each day.”

Nadee’s research involved piloting of an evidence-based, best-practice checklist in postpartum care in general practice, and this work will be presenting her work at Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Conference for General Practice in October 2017.

“The experience I gained from the study inspired my clinical practice in providing postpartum care,” she says.

The academic post included a teaching component, where Nadee had the opportunity to co-tutor third-year medical students on general practice rotation, facilitate discharge summary tutorials and scenario-based learning sessions, and co-examine students at the end of their general practice rotations.

“I had friendly and supportive supervisors who were very helpful and guided me throughout,” she says.

“I absolutely enjoyed my year as an academic registrar and it was certainly the most versatile period of my training time. It helped me to experience the many facets of general practice, and to see how these were interconnected. It also gave me the opportunity to meet and share ideas with a variety of people including clinicians, other health care professionals, and university academics.”

James Cook University's (JCU) General Practice Training program Deputy Director Associate Professor Carole Reeve says an academic post can be a very useful opportunity for GP registrars interested in research.

“The everyday practice of GPs is based on evidence. GPs need to be able to filter, critically appraise, interpret and apply information. An academic post is a useful way to hone these critical thinking abilities, further develop research skills, and to learn more about teaching,” says Associate Professor Reeve.

JCU registrars on academic posts have completed research in areas including rheumatic heart disease, access to health care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, rural workforce and access to health care, and have attended conferences to present their research.

“Some of our JCU academic post registrar’s attended the World Organisation of Family Doctors 2017 international conference earlier this year. GMT had six abstracts accepted at the conference and it was a wonderful opportunity for our registrars to gain experience presenting their research at an international forum,” said Associate Professor Reeve.

Nadee is on track to complete her GP training in 2018 and plans to continue to engage in research while enjoying life in the Sunshine Coast.

“The natural beauty and peaceful lifestyle of the Sunshine Coast was absolutely attractive. I am lucky to be in a position where I can enjoy living in a beautiful place and achieve an excellent work-life balance, all while completing my training to become a GP,” she says.

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