Flinders University celebrates 25 years in the Northern Territory in 2022 and has a number of events planned to recognise the people and commitment to health training initiatives in this context. The decision to include the Northern Territory in delivering clinical placements and curriculum was a leap of faith supported by the NT government and numerous other organisations. Further funding from the Commonwealth Department of Health strengthened capacity and the University Department of Rural Health and Rural Clinical Schools were developed in the Centre for Remote Health in Alice Springs and campuses in Gove (Nhulunbuy) and Katherine. The Northern Territory Medical Program (NTMP) was commenced in 2011 with the complete program offered for the first time. The foundation purpose to train doctors in the Northern Territory is to improve the workforce and over 450 graduates have trained in their final two years here. We have a project to evaluate the outcomes of the NTMP underway.
The varied contexts for clinical service delivery challenge us to ensure that the curriculum learned and assessed is broad and strong. The key aspect of work place based learning is the deliberate participation of the student in the consultation. Each context has a spectrum of health service delivery that offers consultations from the start to completion of the patient health problem.
The discipline of General Practice teaches through the framework with a strong basis of communication and clinical skill. Our clinical placement program positions the Community Based Medical Education semester in Year 3 to harness the student’s learning in the consultation and the breadth of clinical medicine in health services across our sites. ‘The curriculum walks through the door’ and is strengthened through the longitudinal placement. Students see the context of health care in families and their community and importantly recognise the value of this for their professional future.
For example in Darwin at the Palmerston GP Superclinic the student consults the patient first and develops their differential diagnosis and plan, presenting to the GP and patient for a shared decision making process. This is excellent 1:1 teaching and learning that assists the student to craft their skills. Their semester is complimented by regular placements at Danila Dilba Aboriginal Medical Service and remote community placements. These offer a wide breadth of consultation.
We celebrate the engagement and foresight of our health services and the commitment of our health professional colleagues to the strengthening of health care in the NT.
A/Prof Emma Kennedy, RACGP
Associate Professor in Medical Education & Training
Flinders Medical Program (NT)