A formal orientation program is part of the service Rural Health West provides to all health practitioners commencing work in rural Western Australia.
The Australian Medical Council (AMC) guidelines for content of an orientation program state that it should include but not be limited to the following:
- Orientation to the Australian Health Care System
- Communication and cultural safety
- Orientation to the local jurisdiction; health services and facilities
- Legislation and professional practice
An orientation program is particularly important for International Medical Graduates (IMGs) going to work in rural and remote areas.
There are three main objectives of an orientation program for IMGs:
- To enhance the IMG's understanding of the Australian Health Care System.
- To enhance the IMG's understanding of relevant communication and cultural issues.
- To assist the IMG's transition to clinical practice via the provision of information about the local jurisdiction, health services and facilities and the legislative and professional practice environment.
Types of Orientations
Rural Health West has three types of orientations which are outlined below:
Half Day Orientation:
The Half Day Orientation is available for all health practitioners new to Western Australia who have a rural or remote Western Australian placement. It is a free three to four hour session aimed at providing clinical, cultural and family information which relates specifically to living and working in rural general practice in Western Australia.
The orientation is held at Rural Health West in Nedlands and includes information on the following:
- Our support services, including:
- The Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities provided by Rural Health West such as conferences and workshops
- The Family Support Program
- The Five Year Overseas Trained Doctors Scheme and Rural Locum Relief Program
- Cultural awareness with an emphasis on Aboriginal health
- Information on the Australian Health Care System, professional practice and legislative requirements based on the AMC guidelines
- Regional and local information
If you have recruited a health professional, you can register them to participate in Rural Health West’s Half Day Orientation by downloading and completing the Request Form. Please return the form by emailing the Orientation Team or faxing back to +61 8 6389 4501. Your request will be confirmed by email. If the requested date is not available, alternative dates will be provided.
Doctors recruited to work in Western Australia by Rural Health West will be offered two additional orientation programs.
An administrative schedule will be organised for the doctor in the first week after arrival in Western Australia to assist in the completion of all paperwork and registration processes necessary. The schedule may include appointments such as:
- The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) – previously the Medical Board of WA
- Rural Health West Half Day Orientation
- Financial advice – information on the Australian taxation system
- Health screening
- Medical indemnity
- Private health insurance
- Orientation to the Royal Flying Doctor Service
- General practice familiarisation
Rural Orientation Practice Experience (ROPE):
The Rural Orientation Practice Experience (ROPE) program has been established to provide further orientation for IMGs commencing work in rural Western Australia.
Doctors attend the ROPE practice as an observer for five days to provide familiarisation to the Australian general practice environment in a busy, well organised practice. While there, the doctor will attend sessions with an experienced general practitioner, practice manager, practice nurse and if relevant, will spend some time observing an Aboriginal Medical Service clinic.
Through the five days doctors will observe and understand:
- Doctor/patient interactions
- Communication techniques used in general practice consultations in Australia
- Australian patient expectations of the general practitioner
- Idiosyncrasies of Australian general practice
- Methods of accessing support and information
Doctors will also gain familiarisation with:
- Medical computer systems
- Knowledge of pathology, radiology services etc
- Mechanism of billing (Medicare Benefit Schedule Item numbers etc) and other financial issues
- Knowledge of specialist and allied health referral processes
- Practice management advice
- Cultural awareness
It is important to note that the ROPE program's main aim is familiarisation to the Australian general practice environment and to ascertain areas where doctors may require extra support, rather than to assess clinical performance.