Sex and Research really did mix during my time completing an Academic Post during my GP training in 2010 and 2011 at the University of Melbourne. The time spent developing the skills of research and teaching has been pivotal in my GP career thus far.
When I embarked on an Academic Post I was keen to look at research which was informed by clinical questions I had during my clinical practice. During that time I was looking after young people who had low levels of sexual health literacy and was finding young men were even less informed. My research looked at exploring the attitudes held by young men regarding testing for Chlamydia, a common STI. The study looked at how these attitudes influence young men’s behaviour towards Chlamydia testing to try to inform future development of policies and strategies to increase testing rates for Chlamydia and other STIs in the male population.
The skills I learnt and developed through this program has been essential in the development of my career thus far. Research, teaching, leadership, project management, policy development and developing and evaluating assessments were some of the valuable skills I learnt during my time as an Academic Registrar. These skills I continue to use in my time as a GP today.
Since Fellowship I have continued to be involved in teaching and GP training. This includes roles as a Medical Educator, GP Supervisor, RACGP Examiner and currently as the RACGP Victorian State Censor. Through these roles I have incorporated essential aspects of research, training and assessment skills. Alongside these roles I have also embarked on practice ownership - as a partner of a new GP clinic in North Melbourne it comes as no surprise that project management, research and audit as well as teaching comes into my role as a practice owner on a daily basis.
Completing my Academic Post at the Department of General Practice has been a highlight in my career so far. During the post I not only developed skills in teaching and research, but gained insights into how Academic General Practice can be a catalyst for improving the community’s health through evidence, health promotion, policy and advocacy. Since my post I’ve been fortunate to collaborate on a wide range of education and research projects with passionate colleagues around the world including in the UK, USA, Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Malaysia. In addition to keeping up with my part-time clinical role as a family GP in Richmond, I am the GP lead for curriculum development in the MD and have just embarked on my PhD at the Department - investigating the effects of climate change on primary care and potential responses in the Australian context.
Year of academic post: 2007
Research area in academic post: Acupuncture and women’s health. I conducted a systematic review on acupuncture for pelvic and back pain in pregnancy, published in American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2008.
Skills that you learnt during your academic post that have influenced your current career: Doing a systematic review was an excellent way to learn the fundamentals of clinical research, particularly in understanding randomised clinical trials. It was also a fantastic complement to my clinical work as a GP registrar and acupuncturist. Since then I have gained extensive skills in conducting randomised controlled trials, first as a Masters of Medicine student in 2010, then as a PhD student from 2011-2016. I am now a research fellow at Western Sydney University and have been Chief Investigator on multiple randomised controlled trials. Postdoctorally I have focussed on translational research and on ensuring that my research is co-designed and aims to have real-world impact. To do this I have expanded my research skills to include qualitative research methods, co-design and observational studies. I am leading the development of an academic integrative healthcare centre at Western Sydney University and have taken on several leadership roles including Chair of the RACGP Integrative Medicine Specific Interest Network.
Advice for GP registrars considering an academic post or career: Research can be an excellent additional skill for GP registrars. At the very least, you will leave your academic post having gained valuable skills in understanding different types of research, critical appraisal of evidence, and most importantly, how to find, read and interpret a research paper. For others, an academic post may lead to a career in research which can be very rewarding.
“Undertaking an academic post in 1991 opened the door into the world of the clinician researcher and educator. The support I received from my mentors and wider academic community sparked my passion to continue with an academic career. I love the variety and the challenge of undertaking research that will drive improvement in health care.”
- Prof Jane Gunn, Deputy Dean, Melbourne Medical School
“I undertook two academic registrar posts at the Department of General Practice – and never left! Undertaking my research project exploring a model of care for insulin initiation in a community health centre expanded my clinical skills and opened the pathway to an academic career. Subsequent to my academic registrar posts I have completed a PhD and am now developing a program of work around the use of GP data to assist with clinical decision making at the point of care. The teaching skills that I learnt underpin the work that I now undertake as Academic Coordinator of general practice teaching for the Melbourne MD.”
- A/Prof Jo-Anne Manski-Nankervis, Associate Professor In General Practice, academic registrar 2010-12
“I really valued the opportunity to become a part of the department, see how it functions, make lasting friendships and receive mentoring regarding not only the academic post but also future career plans. The opportunity to hone teaching skills and learn how to manage a small research project also opened my eyes to the possibilities of a future clinical-academic career. In hindsight, I think this was one of the highlights of my medical career so far. I would highly recommend the academic GP registrar post at the University of Melbourne.”
- Dr Chance Pistoll, Lecturer in Primary Care, MD Academic Program Coordinator, academic GP registrar 2016.