25 January 2023
Upskilling our Outback Docs
NQRTH Grant funding enhances rural and remote healthcare services
Rural generalists are an essential part of our rural and remote medical workforce. Across private practice, primary health clinics and hospitals, these resourceful and versatile doctors need to be prepared to provide a broad spectrum of primary, secondary and emergency care.
The Northern Queensland Regional Training Hubs (NQRTH) is supporting our rural generalist and GP registrars through its annual ‘Grow Our Own Grants’. The program funds specialty training opportunities to develop additional skills or knowledge beyond the scope of mandatory training.
In 2022, NQRTH awarded grant funding to 15 recipients across North West, Central West and the Cape and Torres Strait regions. The total funding pool of $58,320 was the largest annual distribution since the initiative’s inception in 2018.
Among the recipients is Dr Caitlin Hurlock, an Anaesthetics Principal House Officer (PHO) and rural generalist registrar through the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM). Since graduating from JCU in 2018, Dr Hurlock has been based at Mount Isa Hospital and commenced rural generalist training in 2021. She applied for the NQRTH Grow Our Own 2022 grants to further enhance the services she can provide to communities of the North West region.
The grant provided Dr Hurlock with the funding to complete an Ultrasound in Rural Medicine course at the Australian Institute of Ultrasound on the Gold Coast.
“Ultrasound is an incredibly versatile investigation that can be performed bedside to help aid in diagnosis and disposition of patients in rural settings, where other imaging modalities are limited,” Dr Hurlock says.
The five-day course covered a range of foundational skills in ultrasound for echocardiography, Focused Assessment with Sonography for Trauma (FAST) scan, vascular, lung, biliary tract, genitourinary tract, early pregnancy and soft tissue ultrasound. Dr Hurlock says the course was facilitated by experienced rural general practitioners who provided clinical cases and anecdotal stories to emphasise the relevance of the teaching to a rural setting.
“With the confidence and knowledge the course provided, I will continue developing my bedside ultrasonography skills for the benefit of patients in my next training post at Emerald Hospital. I would highly recommend this course to anyone undertaking rural generalist training!” Dr Hurlock says.
This year, NQRTH will again be offering a limited number of Grow Our Own grants to assist registrars and supervisors who live and work in the North West, Central West and Cape and Torres regions to access training and professional development that is not available locally.
NQRTH Program Manager Andrea Muller says the grants are part of the program’s commitment to improving rural and regional training pathways for medical graduates across regional and remote Queensland.
“We want to make sure doctors who choose to pursue careers in rural and remote Queensland don’t miss out on training and professional development opportunities.
“Enhancing the skills of our rural and remote doctors ultimately benefits the communities they serve. Through these additional training courses and workshops, they can provide more comprehensive care to patients, they’re better able to diagnose conditions, and they can share this knowledge and train others in these skills as well,” Andrea says.
Northern Queensland Regional Training Hubs and its Grow Our Own grants initiative are funded through the Commonwealth Government’s Integrated Rural Training Pipeline (IRTP).
Stay tuned for more information about the NQRTH Grow Our Own grants 2023 to be released later this year. Through NQRTH, medical students and junior doctors are discovering for themselves the hands-on training experience, job satisfaction, research opportunities and adventure on offer in northern Queensland.
NQRTH is an initiative of the Australian Government's Integrated Rural Training Pipeline (IRTP) and is facilitated by James Cook University in partnership with public and private hospitals, Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC), health services, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and GP clinics.