Reimagining rural general practices in a COVID-19 world

The impact of COVID-19 on healthcare workers in rural general medical practice in western Queensland will be explored in a new Griffith University study.

“As with many other forms of work, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on healthcare work and workers, including those in general medical practice,’’ says lead researcher Professor Stephen Billett from the Griffith Institute of Educational Research.

Professor Stephen Billett
Professor Stephen Billett

“The pandemic has required general medical practices to respond quickly and dramatically to cope with social distancing while preserving the safety of healthcare staff and patients and providing safe and effective care.

“This is particularly highlighted for rural general practices which tend to have a broader and more encompassing scope than urban counterparts.

“These changes offer an opportunity to consider how rural general practices might work more effectively post COVID-19 and how the learning of registrars and medical students and doctors might best progress.”

With colleagues from the University of Queensland and the Queensland Rural Medical Education, Professor Billett and team will interview staff in key rural general practices in western Queensland, as well as those who support rural practices such as allied health workers and physiotherapists.

“The aim of the project is to identify what elements of COVID-19 responses were a precursor to how rural general practices might proceed in the future and what kind of educational provisions are now required for ongoing support to healthcare communities,’’ Professor Billett said.

“The study will also identify stress points of the daily work of practitioners to inform the demands of their roles and educational support to mediate them.”

The research is funded by Queensland Rural Medical Education.