Dr Peter Wutchak

The Collie River Valley Medical Centre (CRVMC) has trained 23 registrars in the past 11 years. It has also engaged seven PGPPP doctors since 2013. The WAGPET supervisor behind this recruitment drive is Dr Peter Wutchak, a former registrar, who is passionate about the many benefits registrars bring to a medical practice.

Peter said he first became a WAGPET 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 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 registrars on short term contracts has also delivered CRVMC crucial workforce flexibility.

“Short term contracts with doctors seeing ½ to ¾ 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 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 registrars. Peter has overcome this obstacle by putting aside set times to teach 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 registrars, and some have gone on to become life long friends.

“I have witnessed many of my 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 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 registrars.

“In rural communities, if you go with the right attitude, you can integrate very quickly,” Peter said. “I advise all registrars to get involved in the local community in some way. Sport is the obvious choice and we had one 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 registrars to the region.

“I advise prospective supervisors to be welcoming to their 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.”

WAGPET Supervisor – Dr Peter Wutchak