RACGP Conference – Our Patients, Our Communities, Our Profession
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has recently held its 50th Annual Scientific Convention. The conference took place at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre from the 4th to 7th of October 2007. Over 700 local and international delegates were in attendance at the convention including nurses, educators, general practitioners and representatives of various health organisations. VMC also attended the conference. Major developments of the college in the preceding year were highlighted.
The three day program consisted of plenary lectures, keynote presentations, exhibition sessions, practical workshops and oral and poster presentations of scientific papers. In addition, attendees were presented with a social program that included walking groups, the cocktail party and film festival, and the GP of the Year dinner.Participants were encouraged to reflect on the theme our patients, our communities, our profession. Overall, sessions focussed on the nature of general practice and challenges faced in an increasingly demanding and busy profession. Topical issues addressed included preventative medicine, mental health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, rural general practice and ongoing teaching and education. Breaking research papers were presented. These included statistically significant falls in blood pressure using garlic preparations (offering potential for dietary preventative strategies); the benefits of Thai Chi in managing arthritis and preventing falls but not improving diabetes; confirmation of the dramatic rates of overweight and obesity in children and lack of intervention; and the lack of evidence supporting improvements in quality of care with computerised practices. Clinical research focuses included methods of diagnosing and managing malignant melanoma, lung carcinoma, colorectal carcinoma, chronic kidney disease and heart failure. The conference provided the opportunity to meet colleagues with inspiring stories and experiences, particularly in the field of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. Dr. Tim Senior, accompanied by his four year old daughter Imogen, and Dr. Elizabeth Hindmarsh shared both their families’ life changing experiences of rural and Aboriginal health. This was followed by addresses from the RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Unit and Rural Health West. The session offered inspiration and practical means to encourage doctors to respond to the urgent health needs, extreme social disadvantages, poverty and powerlessness faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Attending general practitioners were informed of the available supports, challenges and opportunities to work as locum or relief doctors in these communities. One keynote address was entitled ‘Patients marginalised from general practice.’ Alastair McEwin, a consultant to the disability sector, gave a presentation regarding challenges faced by disabled patients attending general practice. Being deaf himself, Alastair conducted his presentation in sign language, accompanied by a talented interpreter. He provided anecdotes of physically disabled patient experiences, including a lady with multiple sclerosis unable to use non-height adjustable examination tables, and deaf patients attempting to lip read practitioners engaged with their computer screens.Rob Trigger followed with a video portraying a homeless adolescent’s interaction with general practice. The audience was offered an insight into the fears and attitudes of troubled adolescents who find it difficult to trust doctors. Father Chris Riley concluded the session with anecdotes of his experiences as a teacher, youth officer, probation officer, residential carer and principal. One such anecdote was the story of an 8 year old boy whom Father Riley had removed from his classroom for misbehaviour. However, after researching the boy’s background, Father Riley discovered that the child had been chronically sexually assaulted and had witnessed his father kill his mother before suiciding. Rather than ignoring the problem, Father Riley shared his journey of healing with the child. The audience was left with strategies to overcome some of the issues isolating certain groups from general practice. Another keynote address was entitled ‘Healthy Communities.’ With a more program- and practice-based focus, this plenary described challenges addressing the needs of Aboriginal, refugee, migrant and rural communities respectively. In particular, complex health needs, poor access to health services, poor employment opportunities and racism were addressed. Christopher Mitchell, vice president of the RACGP, highlighted strategies for encouraging medical graduates to pursue primary care professions, and for attracting students to rural care in order to overcome the crisis facing rural communities. Hsu-Ming Teo (Department of Modern History, Macquarie University, NSW) provided an eloquent historical perspective of Australian communities and the delights (such as exotic foods and fashions) and dilemmas (such as racism) of living with difference. Her presentation addressed topics such as assimilation, diversity, integration, idealism, ethnic fear, ‘One Nation polices’, the Cronulla riots and Brendon Nelson’s ‘Australian values’. An international perspective of Australia’s coping mechanisms for multicultural practices was offered. This keynote address challenged delegates to consider the characteristics of a healthy Australian community and its underlying values, which have direct implications on the health of individuals. In the final Sunday morning sessions, Peter Eizenberg, one of the leaders in immunisation knowledge in Australia, provided a workshop on the latest developments in immunisation. He outlined the history of the immunisation schedule, and attempted to de-mystify its confusing and constantly evolving nature. Recent advances were covered, such as the RotaTeq and Rotarix vaccines, Gardisil and Ceravix vaccines, the timing of Pertussis vaccinations, and updates in practical issues such as vaccine storage and administration. It is important that GPs remain up to date with the complex immunisation protocols to reduce the burden of preventable diseases. For ongoing reference, delegates were referred to
- http://www.immunise.health.gov.au http://www.health.sa.gov.au/immunisationcalculator/
The 50th RACGP Annual Scientific Convention was highly regarded by all those attending. For further information and highlights from the conference, please refer to http://www.racgp.org.au/asc2007. Dates and locations of the 51st RACGP ASC in 2008 are yet to be published. References:
- Britt, Valenti, Cretikos, Baur. Overweight and obesity among children attending general practice- prevalence and management, (Paper Session) RACGP Annual Scientific Meeting, Sydney, 2007.
- Eizenberg. Immunisation- an update, (Workshop) RACGP Annual Scientific Meeting, Sydney, 2007.
- Henderson, Miller, Britt, Pan. The effect of computerisation on the quality of general practice care- a comparison with quality indicators, (Paper Session) RACGP Annual Scientific Meeting, Sydney, 2007.
- Lam, Zwar, Dennis, Diamond. A randomised control trial to assess the effectiveness of Tai Chi for people with type 2 diabetes, (Paper Session) RACGP Annual Scientific Meeting, Sydney, 2007.
- McEwin, Trigger, Riley. Patients marginalised from general practice, (Keynote) RACGP Annual Scientific Meeting, Sydney, 2007.
- Reid, Frank, Stocks, Fakler, Sullivan. Effect of garlic preparations on blood pressure: A meta-analysis, (Paper Session) RACGP Annual Scientific Meeting, Sydney, 2007.
- Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Annual Scientific Convention- Convention Handbook and abstract Guide, 2007.
- Senior T, Hindmarsh E, Hindmarsh R, Hunt J, Reath J, Rural Health West. The experience of a lifetime- and a lifetime for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, (Workshop) RACGP Annual Scientific Meeting, Sydney, 2007.
- Teo. The delights and dilemmas of living with difference: thinking through ‘community’ in Australia today, (Keynote) RACGP Annual Scientific Meeting, Sydney, 2007.
- Wenitong, Smith, Mitchell. Healthy communities, (Keynote) RACGP Annual Scientific Meeting, Sydney, 2007.