Chair’s Report July 2021

Supervisors are Superheros

Dr Nicole Higgins

Dr. Nicole Higgins, GPSA Chair

Thank you.

Life is pretty tough at the moment being a GP, let alone being a supervisor. On top of looking after your own patients and staff, you are caring for the welfare and training of the next generation of family doctors. It is exhausting having to continually pivot during this pandemic and I am hearing many stories of supervisor exhaustion and burn out.

I too know how that feels. As a sole owner of a 10 GP practice, a vaccinating practice in a regional community which struggles with workforce, I am tired. I kept putting off my holidays because of Covid but I decided to ‘just do it’. Sometimes you have to put your own oxygen mask on first. The best lesson we can model for our learners is self care.

So, what does a GP supervisor do?

A lot more than you think. GPSA is currently negotiating with the colleges and Department of Health on your behalf on payments to supervisors and training practices and what this will look like post transition of training. Key to this discussion is defining who we are and what we do.

We do more than provide in practice teaching

What are we worth?

To put it simply – if we were properly paid the government couldn’t afford us. If we were paid for training registrars like we are for medical students the costs would be a massive $500M.

Last month we attended a workshop in Canberra with the key stakeholders and the department on National Consistent Payments for Supervisors, Training Practices and Registrars. We have entered the negotiations attempting to grow the pie for supervisors in a tight budget.

The fact that supervisors aren’t paid to supervise is the glaring gap.

One opportunity to expand the pie is an MBS item number for supervision. For example a GPT1 starts on Level 1 supervision where a supervisor is in every consultation which reduces over time. A simple MBS item number triggered by the registrar when they ask their supervisor for assistance is on the table for discussion.

Supervisors will continue to be paid for teaching and practices will still compensated for taking on a registrar with particular emphasis on the early stages of training. At the moment there is significant variation amongst RTO’s and we are working towards supervisors being paid the same across Australia. We also support continued funding for discretionary spending to support practices and supervisors in recognition of  issues around complexity and rurality in training.

Yours in training,

Dr Nicole Higgins
Chair GPSA