According to the RACGP, Medical educators are GPs with a passion for education. Doctors have long held a tradition of teaching; in fact, the Hippocratic Oath refers to the importance of teaching and mentoring.

Meanwhile, GP Supervisors are not only GPs who teach, but also people who inspire and support the next generation of GPs through their years of training.

Supervising medical students in general practice demonstrates the commitment of the profession to supporting quality lifelong learning of GPs at the beginning of their medical careers, and ultimately for the benefit of the health of the community.

We asked Dr Lisa Fraser, Registrar Liaison Officer for GPTQ why GPs should consider advancing their career through medical education and GP supervision. Here’s what she had to say:

1. How can we get more medical students and GP registrars interested in teaching and supervision?

“Firstly, we need to create a culture of training,” says Lisa. “It should be seen to be fun and have rewards beyond money. We need to create more avenues for registrars to develop their teaching skills.”

In association with the Colleges, for example, registrars can volunteer to be a patient in an exam, or be an examiner, take up research positions and academic posts, or do part time tutoring at medical schools.

“We need to show registrars what opportunities are available and streamline the ways in which registrars can be skilled to teach,” adds Lisa.

2. What are the benefits of becoming a Medical Educator or GP supervisor?

“There are so many benefits to becoming either a Medical Educator or GP Supervisor,” says Lisa. “It will improve the quality of your practice by sharing of knowledge and skills, it will increase your professional support and morale, and it will reduce isolation for remote and rural GPs.”

Being a Medical Educator or GP Supervisor also assists GPs to improve practice processes and systems, and other aspects of their business.

“Many GPs gain additional work through the contacts and networking created by these education roles,” says Lisa. “They are able to find out about new opportunities otherwise unknown to them.”

3. What specific skills can GPs gain by becoming a Medical Educator or GP Supervisor?

  • “Learning how to teach helps you learn how to learn,” says Lisa. According to Lisa, this is enabled by following the principles of adult education, such as learning content out of interest, asking questions, applying knowledge, answering questions, learning in a relaxed and safe environment and sensory learning including visual, auditory and sensory-neural.
  • “GPs learn more as they learn what they need to teach,” adds Lisa. According to Lisa, as GPs teach, they learn. “It increases your knowledge and allows you to identify gaps in your knowledge,” she says.
  • Teaching fulfils a GPs professional duty in medicine to teach. “By taking the Hippocratic Oath, doctors have pledged to teach others unconditionally. In fact, the word doctor translates to teacher,” says Lisa.
  • Teaching enables GPs to meet other interesting people. “By teaching, GPs develop lots of online professional networks, attend conferences, gain continuing professional development points and are able to meet and network with other professionals who are good communicators and approachable,” says Lisa.
  • Teaching often links with research and university opportunities. “A lot of interesting links can happen,” says Lisa. These may include academic posts with GPTQ, appointments by the University of Queensland to do clinical work, other associations with universities, opportunities to do further research, tutoring within university courses and so on.
  • Teaching is fun. According to Lisa, teaching makes you a better doctor with a rich professional network. “GPs improve their skill set. The roles of GP and teaching go well together,” says Lisa.

There are many reasons why you might want to consider a career in medical education or GP supervision and many benefits in making that choice. For more information on how to become a medical educator or GP supervisor, go to www.racgp.org.au/education/meandsupervisors/

To read about our very own GPTQ Medical Educators, click here.

Photo credit: Franklin Heijnen

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