Welcome from Head of Department

Professor Lena Sanci, Head of Department

Thank you for visiting the Department of General Practice and Primary Care at The University of Melbourne.

The Department of General Practice and Primary Care originated as a unit within the Department of Community Medicine in 1977. It was established as a separate department within the School of Medicine in 2001 and established the Primary Care Research Unit (PCRU) as a centre of excellence in primary care research, research training and knowledge exchange in 2006. The Department has 68 (full time equivalent) staff supported by an operating budget of $7 million and research income of approximately $11 million annually.

With an increased profile within the Melbourne Medical School, the Department has utilised its growing network of general practitioners (GPs) and primary health care providers in the community to ensure that University of Melbourne medical students are provided with quality community-based medical education. The Department delivers postgraduate training for primary care nurses, and research training for medical, honours, masters (4) and PhD students (18).  For more than 20 years, the Department has run a very successful General Practice academic registrar program where doctors who are training to be GPs (GP registrars) undertake a half time special skills post in academic medicine to experience an introduction to research and university teaching. We average around three academic registrars per year.

The Department has a successful Primary Care Research Unit (PCRU), including a Trials Unit with a practice-based research and education network (VicREN), which comprises our community-based general practices (600+) and other primary care providers who contribute to and drive teaching and research. A proportion of our VicREN members are a part of our Data for Decisions (D4D) Community of Practice. In this D4D program general practices have an agreement with the Department to share their electronic medical record (EMR) data for research and policy advocacy; participating practices have also undertaken a process with their patients to opt out if they do not want their data shared. The EMR data is de-identified before it leaves the practice and is stored in a secure data repository managed by the Department, called Patron. Patron has a management group and an independent governance group with representatives who are consumers, GPs, practice managers, researchers, IT technical, and legal experts.

Our cross-cutting research themes include clinical biostatistics, implementation science, clinical informatics, co-design, and health services research. Central to our work is understanding the patient and practitioner experience and through co-production methodologies involving them in identifying the challenges and designing and testing solutions. Using clinical data analytics, we explore patient pathways through health care and describe the epidemiology of health and disease in primary care. With a focus on primary care innovation, we develop, test and implement simple and complex interventions including digital technologies, such as a range of risk stratification and point-of-care decision making tools. The Department also has successful research programs in specialised areas in Cancer; Children and Young People’s Health; Clinical Data Informatics, Data Driven Quality Improvement, Integrated Mental Health; Sexual Health, and Abuse and Violence.

Please take some time to explore our website.

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