Riding the Wave of Change at RMA19

The Flinders NT Regional Training Hub (FNT RT) team travelled to the Gold Coast in October to join over 1,000 rural doctors, medical students and other rural health stakeholders from across the country for the 2019 Rural Medicine Australia (RMA) conference.

RMA is the peak national event for rural and remote doctors of Australia and is hosted by the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA). It attracts a diverse and collaborative community of junior doctors, students, educators, academics, and medical practitioners who are passionate about the wave of change happening in generalist medicine in rural and remote communities.

RMA19 covered an enormous breadth of current health issues and policy topics with a focus on the future for Cultural Health, Women in Health, Family & Community Health, Rural Future,
Rural First Responders and Our Rural Doctors. The conference included significant discussions on the urgent steps required to progress the implementation of a National Rural Generalist Pathway to train and deliver more of the next generation of doctors to the bush.

The Rural Health Commissioner, Emeritus Professor Paul Worley, joined a compelling line up of keynote speakers, including Ita Buttrose AC OBE. Professor Worley spoke of the need to advocate for change to the health care system to promote and support rural and remote careers. Ita Buttrose spoke on how she has successfully coped with many changes to her long, varied and interesting career.

FNT RTH Medical Directors, Dr Sam Heard, Dr Olivia O’Donoghue co- presented with Dr Sally Banfield (Central Australian Aboriginal Congress) on the pilot program in Advanced Training in Remote Indigenous Health  including a launch of the programs guidebook. There was a lot of interest generated by this session with the Hub team fielding many enquiries about the future of the program and how doctors can become involved.

FNT RTH was one of a group of seven Regional Training Hubs who’s abstract “Your Wakeboard for Riding the Wave of Change through your Rural Regional Remote Medical Career” was accepted for presentation at the conference. Dr Sam Heard joined a panel of Hub representatives to showcase how they are assisting the medical workforce with complex training decisions, career choices and finding the right fit for Medical Students and junior Doctors and facilitating in addition to the creation of new regional, rural and remote training capacity. The session was also used to launch the “Destination Medicine” podcast series.

FNT RTH sponsored 2 Flinders NT Medical program students, 3 Junior Medical Officers, and 2 ACCRM registrars who had demonstrated an interest in working within the Northern Territory in rural and remote general practice to attend the Conference. This was to enhance their knowledge in remote medicine and Indigenous health, and to network. The attendees found the opportunity to network invaluable and the conference content relevant and inspiring.

FNT RTH Program Manager, Debby Mauger, Program Administrator, Karen Montey and Program Support Officer Abdul Basid , with assistance from the Medical Directors, and the sponsored students and JMO’s managed the Flinders NT booth at the conference and fielded a lot of questions about studying and practicing medicine in the Territory. The Hub also sponsored a coffee station, “Clever Beans” with the Flinders NT keep cups which along with our quirky crocodiles and camels were some of the most sort after promotional items at RMA19 which kept people coming back to the stall.

FNT RTH staff made the most of the opportunity to network with representatives from the other Hubs, Medical Colleges, health agencies, the NT and Commonwealth Government, and to promote and advocate for NT medical training and workforce. They considered their attendance at the conference to be invaluable and brought back many ideas, contacts and resources to incorporate into their 2020 strategic planning. They are contemplating how they can build on the momentum of this year’s conference for the next RMA to held in the Hunter Valley in October 2020.

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