MOTHERS and babies in SA regions are gaining greater access to primary healthcare provided by GP trainees who are combining intensive city hospital experience with their regional placement.
In a SA first, the new advanced skills blended placement program sees rural-based GP trainees undertake two-week rotations in obstetrics at the Lyell McEwin Hospital.
The program was an initiative of and is supported by SA's only regional GP training organisation, GPEx.
Posted to Yorke Peninsula, GP registrar Barbara Butler divides her regional training time between Kadina and Wallaroo. She relishes the varied experience she gains from the Lyell McEwin.
"There's a real breadth of cases that walk through the doors of the Lyell McEwin Hospital," she said.
"It's a very diverse demographic with a lot of high-risk obstetrics.
RELATED READING:SA's rural health system under fire from opposition
"The blended placements program means we're able to continue our GP work in the country while getting advanced training in a busy city hospital.
"I've delivered babies at the Lyell McEwin whose parents are Kadina locals and see me in the town for their follow up visits.
"New mums find the continuity of care reassuring."
Dr Butler is one of two GP trainees completing the blended placements obstetrics program.
She's in the fourth month of a two-year placement and plans to settle long-term in a country town.
"I grew up in the country and saw firsthand health inequities. My brother was in an accident and needed ongoing medical treatment which meant a three-hour drive to the city," she said.
"In the country, women don't have a lot of choice but many prefer having a female doctor caring for them during pregnancy as well as for gynaecological care and contraception.
This is Rural Generalism in action.
"I love all of it. This includes the awe-inspiring moment a baby takes its first breath and the ability to empower rural women with knowledge so they can make the best choices for their health."
GPEx chief executive officer Stephanie Clota said the advanced skills blended placements program allowed GP trainees to become qualified to undertake complicated obstetrics in rural areas, enhancing the skills available in the region.
"Being SA's only regional GP training organisation, GPEx is committed to supporting registrars with an interest in a range of advanced skills, including obstetrics," she said.
"We're passionate about strengthening services in regional and rural areas for future generations.
"If a country town has a viable on-call obstetrics roster, women aren't forced to leave their community to have their baby in a larger centre or Adelaide.
"This is a new partnership model of rural GP training in what is a first for SA."
PROGRAM HELPS BUILD REGIONAL RELATIONSHIPS
GPEx chief executive officer Stephanie Clota said the real benefit of the program was that registrars could remain living in a rural community and build relationships while advancing their training in the city.
"This is Rural Generalism in action," she said.
"GPEx registrars account for around one-quarter of the state's rural medical workforce. For every 10-week increase in rural training duration, graduates are 35 per cent more likely to practise rurally."
Since 2016, more than 800 GPEx registrars have undertaken community training in SA, contributing 2.39 million hours of primary healthcare service to local communities.
RELATED READING:Burnout risk a major concern in rural workforce
Ms Clota says there is scope for GPEx to expand the obstetrics blended placements program for future trainee GPs across SA.
GPEx is SA's regional organisation for education and training of doctors who choose to specialise in General Practice. It delivers the Australian General Practice Training program, which is funded by the federal government's Department of Health.
Start the day with all the big news in agriculture. Sign up here to receive our daily Stock Journal newsletter.