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Supporting Diplomates, DRANZCOG trainees

25 May 2020

Diplomate Board Director Dr Judith Gardiner says RANZCOG is committed to Diplomates, and aware of the vital role that GP Obstetricians play in providing obstetric and women’s health services in rural and remote areas. Read Dr Gardiner's article below.

RANZCOG has a long history of training and assessing Diplomates to provide obstetric services in the wider community. Over the years the training and assessment has evolved to include an Advanced (procedural) pathway in 2001 and a Certificate of Women’s Health (CWH) in 2011. More recently RANZCOG has been pivotal in supporting a rural generalist pathway in attempts to boost the rural obstetric workforce. RANZCOG has also supported ongoing education for Diplomates through online resources, Diplomate Days at ASMs, Revision Courses and FSEP. A major advancement in 2019 was the inclusion of a Diplomate to the RANZCOG Board, enabling a significant improvement in College engagement with Diplomates and a better understanding of the unique challenges faced by GP Obstetricians, especially those working in rural and remote locations. Last year also saw the introduction of the recognition of Diplomates who have been in the workforce for over 35 years, enabling us to thank them for their enormous contribution to women’s health.
 
RANZCOG is aware that many rural and remote communities are losing their local obstetric services, often due to inadequate access to trained medical or nursing staff. Many successful DRANZCOG Advanced graduates are not taking up the opportunities on offer in these areas. The President and CEO have met with the Rural Health Commissioner, Professor Paul Worley and the Minister for Regional Services The Hon Mark Coulton MP in an attempt to identify the hurdles to transition from trainee to rural practice and to see where the College may be able to assist with this process.
 
There are plans in place to collect data at the time of re-registration in 2020 to determine how many Diplomates are still practising obstetrics, at what level, and in what location. This will assist the College to develop strategies to address Australia’s obstetric workforce needs into the future. RANZCOG is also committed to facilitate upskilling opportunities for Diplomates, and hopes to establish a database of positions and contacts for Diplomates to access.
 
The College would like to see increased employment of Diplomates in urban and regional hospitals, especially in those units experiencing difficulty filling staffing vacancies, and to free up FRANZCOG trainees for gynaecological surgical training. This is particularly important for hospitals with DRANZCOG trainees who at present have minimal contact with GP Obstetricians during their training. Active involvement of Diplomates in DRANZCOG training and mentorship of early graduates may encourage more to move to work in rural hospitals.
 
For our DRANZCOG trainees, RANZCOG is currently revising the training curriculum and improving its online resources. Revision courses for trainees are usually held annually in each state and territory but in 2020 due to pandemic restrictions, we are working toward the establishment of a series of online revision sessions with high quality speakers and the provision for interactive discussion. The oral DRANZCOG Advanced examinations in March and August 2020 had to be cancelled due to travel restrictions. The College is aware of the implications for trainees who had planned work opportunities that have now been put on hold. We have assisted some trainees to be credentialled for work pending their ability to sit their oral examination and the assessment team have been working tirelessly to develop, an online alternative examination We are working to offer an online examination in August for a small cohort of priority trainees and, if travel restrictions are lifted, a face- to- face exam is planned for early November.
 
RANZCOG, through the Board and President Dr Vijay Roach, has made significant steps to reach out to Diplomates, who form a large proportion of the College membership. They are acutely aware of the ever-decreasing number of rural community birthing units, and the vital role that GP Obstetricians play in providing obstetric and women’s health services in rural and remote areas of Australia. RANZCOG would like to see improved engagement of Diplomates with the College so that these needs can be addressed and appropriate support can be offered to those Diplomates working at the coal face.



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