Head of Department Welcome

2020 is now in full swing and what a tumultuous year it has been so far. No sooner had Victoria begun to settle the terrible bushfires that the COVID-19 pandemic was declared and has rapidly changed primary care delivery and all other social and work aspects of our lives.

Our university went into lockdown in late March with all learning being rapidly converted to online. All university staff, including our Department, have been instructed to work from home with our key card access to the buildings suspended. Only certain laboratory staff such as those working on COVID-19 are authorised access to campus. All clinical placements in hospitals and primary care were also suspended and any research being undertaken in hospital/primary care, unless related to COVID-19, or conducted on the desktop, has also been suspended.

So, we are in unprecedented times as I am sure are all of you. Our Department still maintains some rituals such as our Friday morning tea where we gather and celebrate our milestones. We have more people online to our virtual morning tea than we could ever fit in our tea-room before! Below is a photo of us at last week’s gathering – there were nearly 50 people online.

We are thinking of you all out there too and hoping you are well and coping. I thank those of you offering medical student placements for being flexible with us needing to cease the placements so suddenly. There are plans to trial renewed placements in some way, shape or form, when lockdown is lifted. There will be knock on effects from this closure on the need to make up clinical placement time for two-year levels. Our Teaching and Learning team will keep you informed of this.

Our newsletter is a little late so a belated thank you to all our GP Supervisors who attended our update on February 1st. We had very good feedback on the talks by Dr Mukesh Haikerwal on primary care of the future, Dr Karyn Alexander on developmental paediatrics in general practice, and Prof Melissa Wake on the upcoming Gen V study led by Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. Mukesh’s talk was somewhat prophetic and he is even now a rapid adopter in this era of COVID-19 response with telehealth and implementing one of the 100 respiratory clinics.

This year we are very fortunate to have welcomed 3 academic registrars to experience GP academia with us, Drs Anna Power, Asiel Adan Sanchez, and Alan Jardine.

Just prior to COVID-19 we had many international visitors some of who had to rush home once countries started to call back their citizens before borders lock down! Fortunately, A/Prof Ly-Mee Yu from the University of Oxford was able to attend early enough to stay her full two weeks. Ly-Mee is the Deputy Director and Lead Trial Statistician of the Primary Care Clinical Trials Unit at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences. Ly-Mee was the Doris Young Professorship Award recipient for 2020.

We hope you enjoy reading this issue with our news of the year prior to lock down.

With warm regards and stay well!

Professor Lena Sanci, Head of Department