Provision of antenatal care is a rewarding aspect of general practice. However, GP registrars very often have limited clinical experience in this area, and can find antenatal care challenging. GP supervisors can support a systematic approach to looking after the pregnant woman, including screening and monitoring for potentially serious problems.
Discussion about contraception is a common reason for encounter in general practice, but such consultations are often lengthy and complex. It is important that registrars feel comfortable discussing the breadth of contraceptive options with their patients and negotiating the best approach. Registrars will have different experiences of contraception experiences, both personal and professional, which is likely to influence their approach to prescribing.
Genetic testing for human disease has never been more accessible, nor sought after by health consumers. Genetics counselling and testing is no longer solely the domain of specialist units, but increasingly becoming a routine element of Australian general practice. GPs can order a variety of different genetic tests, but direct-to-consumer marketing means that GPs are being asked to interpret complex tests that they may not have requested. There are a number of common genetic disorders e.g. hereditary haemochromatosis, thalassemia that registrars need to competently assess and manage. Furthermore, registrars increasingly need to consider a genetic contribution to a wide range of patient presentations, as well as develop a best practice approach to genetic counselling and test interpretation.
Health assessments/health checks are the second most frequent reason for encounter in Australian general practice (after prescription requests), occurring at a rate of 8.6 per 100 encounters. Health assessments, comprising preventive health activities and screening, are core elements of comprehensive general practice. They are particularly important in addressing the health disparities faced by disadvantaged population groups, like Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. For many GP registrars, undertaking preventive health assessments and population screening will require the application of new knowledge and skills.
Immunisation has been a major factor in improving the health of communities over the past century, and general practice is the major location for vaccination in Australia. The safety and effectiveness of immunisation is well established. Despite this, a significant number of Australian adults remain unconvinced or fearful about immunisation. Registrars need to be up to date in relation to the ever-changing immunisation schedules, and be competent in dealing with reluctant parents.
The transition from prescribing in the hospital environment to the general practice setting is a challenging one for new GP registrars. The rules, regulations and restrictions of the PBS can be bewildering. This activity should be done at orientation, or very early in the term.
Polypharmacy is the concurrent use of multiple medications. This is an issue for all patients with comorbidities, although most prominent in the elderly, with a recent MJA study finding that 66% of people aged 75+ years taking five or more medications. Polypharmacy can be associated with multiple side effects, interactions and patient harm. De-prescribing is the process of withdrawal of an inappropriate or redundant medication with the goal of managing polypharmacy and improving outcomes. This tutorial is linked to the supervision activity of prescribing audit and feedback.
Professional and ethical practice is a fundamental component of quality general practice. Reflecting this, the professional and ethical role of the GP is identified as a core domain in the curricula of both the RACGP and ACRRM. The professional and ethical role embraces a wide range of areas: duty of care, boundaries, end-of-life care, professional standards, self-appraisal and self-care, teaching and mentorship, practicing within an ethical framework and life-long learning. Supervisors play an important role in instilling and nurturing professional and ethical values, attitudes and behaviours in their registrars. Fundamentally, these embrace the primacy of the duty of care to patients, the rights of patients to access competent, compassionate care, and the need to practice safely, effectively and ethically.
Medication use is the most common health-related action taken by Australians and, if used correctly, can significantly improve health outcomes. However, there are also potential harms and negative consequences related to medicines use. Rational prescribing (RP) is the judicious, appropriate, safe and efficacious use of medicines, and is known to be a challenging area for GP registrars. GP supervisors play a key role in influencing GP registrar prescribing. This tutorial is linked to the supervision activity of prescribing audit and feedback.