Following on from the meetings with Junior Medical Officers at the end of 2019, it was decided to go ahead with a Remote and Rural Junior Medical Officer Forum in Alice Springs in May 2020 to address difficulties in training as a remote and rural specialist. A steering committee consisting of Junior Doctors and representatives from the Flinders NT Regional Training Hub and other regional training hubs was formed to progress the program for the forum.
However, due to COVID-19 the Alice Springs Forum has been postponed to May 2021 and the steering committee have continued to meet every two months to discuss issues relevant to the proposal and to further develop the program.
Specialists from a range of disciplines who were considered proponents of remote and rural training were invited to join the committee and assist in developing the program. This group of specialists are very committed to discussing and finding solutions to the issues around remote and rural training and have continued to meet every two months.
At the May 2020 meeting of the Remote and Rural JMO Steering Committee it was decided to invite a representative from key Colleges to attend the July meeting to present on what each College is doing regarding remote and rural training. The aim is to determine the commonalities and critical elements across a range of Colleges.
The group also agreed to meet in September to explore the role of “global health” in the training and careers of remote and rural specialists. The group believes it is often important in developing readiness for remote and rural work.
Nick Elmitt from the AMA joined the committee in May to discuss the AMA’s position statement on rural training pathways. This initiative was inspired by the frustration of a surgeon during her training getting adequate supervision and meeting College requirements while staying in a regional area. The need for ongoing supports from the metropolitan centres was also recognised.
The Steering Committee has recently submitted a paper titled “Rural Specialisation: Fact or Fiction?” to the Australian Journal of Rural Health; the forthcoming Educating Health Professionals for Rural and Remote Practice issue. An abstract, “Rural and Remote Training Pathways in Specialist Colleges” was also submitted for the Rural Medicine Australia conference (October 2020).
To ensure the continued involvement of the NT JMO’s it is planned to hold local face-to-face meetings this year to further develop the JMO requirements and suggested solutions.