Welcome from the Head of Department
Happy new year and welcome to the first edition of the DGP newsletter for 2023. I hope everyone managed to experience some well-deserved rest and relaxation over the festive break as this year is already shaping up to be a busy one. We want to make this year the year of the GP!
There is much discussion of how we can strengthen primary care in this country with better funding models to support GP and integrated care with other providers and other strategies. One thing we can do as a university teaching community is to inspire the next generation of medical students to enter our profession. Our motto states that ‘students are our future’ and this is more important than ever today. I was very honoured to welcome the GP student supervisors for 2023 to the annual supervisor update day on February 4th. It was great to see such a turn out for this face-to-face gathering including from rural Victoria. My immense gratitude goes out to all of you in general practices who teach our students. You have a vitally important role and when students reflect on their GP term, it is not the university department they remember but the experience they had in practice with you.
Another way to strengthen primary care is to train future leaders in research. Research and innovation changes practice and policy and improves health outcomes. We need primary care clinicians skilled to lead our own research and to collaborate with others to bring the primary care perspective. The annual Leon Carp Award, made possible by a generous donation from the esteemed GP Dr Leon Carp who retired after 60 years in his own practice, has been established to give GPs an experience in research and hopefully inspire some to undertake a PhD or other research activity. I am pleased to announce that the 2023 recipient of the Leon Carp award is Dr Valerie Quah from the Congress Clinic Alice Springs, an Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) clinic in the Northern Territory. Dr Quah is a worthy winner among a competitive field of other inspiring applicants. Dr Quah will be undertaking part-time research for 9-12 months and will remain based in Alice Springs. We look forward to having Valerie join us in the Department.
We also have Dr Rochelle Sleaby who was the successful recipient of the prestigious MACH Track award which provides an entry to research with the academic registrar year followed by a funded PhD track in subsequent years. Dr Rochelle Sleaby will be studying screening and prevention of type 2 diabetes after gestational diabetes in general practice. Her area of interest is translating data, technology and digital health intervention research to disease prevention in general practice.
Visiting Professor Alastair Hay will be joining us from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom to present an interesting seminar on the growing threat of antibiotic resistance to public health. He will be sharing his perspectives on some of the UK’s key strategies and current public health campaigns to combat this problem and discussing the implications for Australian public health policy. It is going to be a dynamic presentation and I encourage all those interested to attend.
I would also like to introduce two new members of staff. Firstly, Jessie Lu-Lee joins us to support Dr Bianca Forrester in the delivery of the Doctors in Secondary Schools Program. Jessie has a background in youth counselling, education and events management and will be a great addition to the team. Our next new member of staff is Dr Anneliese Willems, who has joined the very busy Teaching and Learning Team. Anneliese has seven years of experience in medical education, hosts an educational podcast on dermatology and will be working to deliver teaching across the Doctor of Medicine. Welcome Jessie and Anneliese!
Before I let you go, I wanted to draw your attention to an interview with Dr Magdalena Simonis in the Sydney Morning Herald that discusses the troubling rise of health misinformation being circulated by wellness influencers on social media. The current online trend away from scientifically proven, evidence-based medicine towards alternative, unproven or outdated contraceptive methods has led to a significant increase in unwanted pregnancies among women under 30. The question of how to tackle the rise of social media misinformation, about contraception, vaccination or any other health issue, needs to be discussed at a national level. As general practitioners, we are well versed in dispelling these health myths and misbeliefs in our clinics, yet another important role of primary care!
You can read more about this and many other interesting topics in our February newsletter below.