Why Train GPs: Dr Peter Wutchak
WAGPET GP supervisor Dr Peter Wutchak shares why he loves training the future GPs of WA at Collie River Valley Medical Centre.
The Collie River Valley Medical Centre (CRVMC) has trained 35 GP registrars in the past 14 years. The WAGPET GP supervisor behind this recruitment drive is Dr Peter Wutchak, a former GP registrar, who is passionate about the many benefits GP registrars bring to a medical practice.
Peter said he first became a WAGPET GP supervisor to help entice training doctors to experience the benefits of practising in Collie and to stay beyond training. However, a year into the program, Peter realised his GP registrars were keeping the practice fresh and vibrant, and by teaching, he was ensuring his knowledge was up-to-date.
“New blood that is raw and receptive really helps revitalise the practice and helps keep our processes fresh and current,” Peter said. “I feel teaching can really bind and finish off good practices, and there is no better way to reinforce your own knowledge and learn than by teaching.”
Recruiting GP registrars on short-term contracts has also delivered CRVMC crucial workforce flexibility.
“Short-term contracts with doctors seeing half to three quarters of a full-time load can be really useful to a practice unsure of its growth,” Peter said. “The other obvious benefit is that often GP registrars will look to stay on and this can really help build your team in the longer term.”
Time management is one of the biggest challenges in a rural GP’s existence.
It can be very demanding to manage a busy practice, a variety of emergencies that arise in the country and have time for GP registrars. Peter has overcome this obstacle by putting aside set times to teach GP registrars.
“If you don’t, it won’t happen as much as it should and that leads to dissatisfaction on both sides,” he said.
Peter said he got great personal satisfaction from training GP registrars, and some have gone on to become life-long friends.
“I have witnessed many of my GP registrars perform magnificently under difficult circumstances, which has thrilled me to know that I have had a small influence on moulding their development,” he said.
A rural GP placement remains a fantastic way to learn the art of general practice medicine and become a truly independent GP, according to Peter.
“When the specialist is hours away and you’re the bunny that has to manage your patient in the local hospital (with GP supervisor support), you learn ways to cope that serve you so well in your future career,” Peter said.
Working in a small community can also bring great rewards to GP registrars.
“In rural communities, if you go with the right attitude, you can integrate very quickly,” Peter said. “I advise all GP registrars to get involved in the local community in some way. Sport is the obvious choice and we had one GP registrar who represented Collie in volleyball at Country Week and also got involved in underwater hockey.”
Peter, who has lived in the South West for 15 years, has also done his best to welcome GP registrars to the region.
“I advise prospective GP supervisors to be welcoming to their GP registrars – invite them to dinner, share some social occasions,” Peter said. “One of my positive memories of training was dinner at the boss’s house. I hope I have reciprocated – I hear my Weber roast pork has been highly rated.”
Are you a WAGPET GP registrar or supervisor who wants to share their story? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.