Rural psychiatry practice visits - a first hand account
During 2011–12 RHCE provided funding to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) to facilitate 20 practice visits for psychiatrists working in rural and remote communities, with a view to strengthening networks and collegial relationships between psychiatrists.
A practice visit usually involves two visits: an initial in-person visit and a follow-up, which can be in person, via phone, etc. It is a peer review activity which has been part of the College's Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Program since the CPD program was first established.
Soon after the initial rollout of the program I applied for and received a practice visit. I was in private practice and I sought to be visited by another psychiatrist in private practice. I found the experience extremely useful, as it allowed me to look at the way I ran my practice and also provided the opportunity to gain a colleague’s encouragement.
Meeting this way with colleagues has been useful, but it is time-consuming, especially as a rural psychiatrist, travel has meant one or more overnight stays.
This year I have been a visitor. I have been a member of a College committee overseeing the project with RHCE funding, designed to support rural practice visits by meeting the expenses of the visitor. However, the time issues led us to wonder about a ‘virtual’ visit, so on a Thursday morning in March 2012, Dr Daniel Mossler from Adelaide ‘visited’ me.
Over two hours he looked at Grafton on Google Earth. We discussed Grafton and the Clarence Valley and the issues facing the area, we reviewed how the practice was run, and he reviewed sample medical records.
We used the College’s access to Webex to facilitate the video conference and, because I had my patients’ records on the computer, I could allow Dr Mossler to share my desktop and review records.
My experience was that while we missed out on the extra time of having a meal together after the visit, the visit delivered the positives of an in-person practice visit without the travel time.
Subsequently we applied to the RANZCP's Committee for Continuing Medical Education (CME), who approved virtual practice visits being undertaken as part of the project, to be accredited for CME credits.
So how do you receive a visit?
Firstly, contact the College and request one. The CPD Program staff will organise a visitor who will contact you and arrange a mutually satisfactory time. Our suggestion is to also have Skype on a mobile device such as a phone or iPad, to allow a walk-through of the physical rooms. It will be two to three hours well spent.
Dr Peter O’Brien
Committee member, Special Interest Group in Rural Psychiatry