Most medical colleges are onboard with encouraging their doctors to see a GP regularly but struggle getting this message across to their fellows because of mandatory notification fears.
In an effort to respond to this issue, some colleges are now offering CPD points to fellows who make regular GP consults a priority.
For example, the Australasian College of Sport and Exercise Physicians (ACSEP) offers one CPD point a year for members who visit a GP for an annual check-up.
This, ideally, encourages fellows to establish a relationship with a regular GP, the ACSEP said.
Dr Adam Castricum, immediate past president of ACSEP and a sport and exercise physician in Melbourne, said the college made the decision in response to a number of doctor suicides in the organisation.
“When I became president, ACSEP had experienced two recent suicides of colleagues. One was a much-loved past president of the college, and one week later, one of our registrars also took their own life,” he told The Medical Republic.
“In a college of only 200 members, that was 1% of our college that we’d lost in a short amount of time.
“As a president, you have to ask yourself ‘What are we doing right and wrong?’ And, you also have to start thinking about how doctors can start looking after each other better,” Dr Castricum said.
The CPD initiative began in 2018 and while no data is yet available to show its impact, Dr Castricum said fellows were positive about having this option.
The initiative also hopes to reduce the trend of self-prescribing among doctors.
Dr Castricum said the laws in some states which still allowed for doctor self-treatment and self-prescription were nothing short of appalling in a profession trying to combat suicide and mental health issues.
Another college encouraging professional wellbeing through CPD is the College of Intensive Care Medicine of Australia and New Zealand. Under a CPD category of “personal advancement” activities, members can attribute a number of wellbeing activities, including GP visits.
But it seems the GP colleges, while supportive of doctors seeking medical treatment, have no plans to adopt this CPD model.
“The RACGP does not give CPD points to GPs merely because they have a regular GP,” RACGP President, Dr Harry Nespolon told The Medical Republic.
“However, we believe that as a medical practitioner, it’s vital for all GPs to look after themselves and get care and support when required. That is why we are so strongly opposed to the mandatory reporting obligations that deter some GPs from seeking help.”
Currently, RACGP members can claim CPD recognition for activities that support their wellbeing such as a course on stress management, but not for medical appointments.
ACCRM said while it didn’t offer CPD for regular medical check-ups, it did provide facilitated opportunities for its fellows to seek support, such as mentoring.