GP training for rural communities and remote areas

Providing health care services in rural communities and remote areas across UK is extremely challenging. The profile of patients and pattern of diseases are significantly different compared to those in large population centres and urban areas. In addition, the distance from hospitals, ambulatory services and medical infrastructure also compelled country doctors to perform a wider range of services.

In many instances, rural GPs are the first responders to injuries and accidents, and are required to provide emergency to affected patients. For patients which needs to be transferred to better facilities in urban areas, rural GPs need to provide care for the injured patients, as well as those suffering from critical and life threatening illnesses – the waiting time sometimes can last several hours.

Owing to these factors, country doctors need to be trained and exposed to slightly different skillsets compared to their counterparts stationed in urban areas.

Emergency and trauma care is an important skillset for rural doctors. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Rural Training for GP

There is a wide gulf between vocational training and real life requirements when working as a rural GP. So how should you prepare to work in rural setting?

Previous roles in emergency and trauma services and medicine are quite useful, as well as direct clinical experience in wide ranging areas such as myocardial infarction and dermatology. Speak to the person in charge of any GP postgraduate program to find out any locally available and recognised postings. Ideally, seek out postings with a rotation for rural practice. The idea is to practice and develop your existing skillset in relevant disciplines.

Candidates seldom moved immediately from vocational training to a permanent rural posting as ideally, they should first spend time as a locum or associate to sharpen their skills.

Certification for rural doctors

There are no mandatory certifications for GPs working in rural posts. However, since emergency and trauma care is a critical skill for any rural doctor, they are advised to attend the British Association for Immediate Care (BASICS) course, which provides high level trauma and emergency care training.