Author Archive | RCGP Scotland at WONCA Rural

Views from Jozo on #WoncaRural2015

jozoJozo Schmuch is a medical student in Croatia, and Public Health Regional Assistant of the European branch of the IFMSA – the International Federation of Medical Students.

Jozo was involved in organising some of the student stream of the recent WONCA World Rural Health, and was an active participant throughout the conference.  I caught up with him to find out what advantages he saw in getting undergraduate students out for experience in rural practice…


The International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA), founded in 1951, represents and connects today with medical students from 125 national member organizations in over 100 countries. The IFMSA envisions a world in which medical students unite for global health are are equipped with the knowledge, skills and values to take on health leadership roles locally and globally. As port of its portfolio on public health, IFMSA has been involved in rural health promotion initiatives with its partners (such as WONCA) and has conducted some internal research on the topic, the results of which were shared during the Conference.

Continue Reading ·

View from Australia… #WoncaRural2015

gerry2Yesterday I cornered Gerry Considine of @ruralflyingdoc fame.  He and wife Mel – also a rural GP (@ruralgreengp) – had made the trip over to Dubrovnik with other Auzzie twitter-celebs including Dave Townsend (@futuregp) and Aaron Sparshott (@IVLine).  Their attendance seems to have been spurred on by gentle encouragement of Ewen McPhee (@Fly_texan).

When I spoke with Gerry, we had indulged in an afternoon of seeing old Dubrovnik – the conference had finished, and it was an ample opportunity for us to see some sights over ice cream and, subsequently a great wine bar.  Here’s the interview…!

Continue Reading ·

Conversations from #WoncaRural2015

wonca_logo_final_01This afternoon I managed to have the following conversations from some of Rural WONCA’s participants… hopefully it offers a flavour of what the conference has offered so far!



ianIan Couper, South Africa

Ian is a rural family doctor, and a stalwart of Rural WONCA.  You can read more about his background here.

David Halata, Czech Republic

David is a family doctor, and this is his second Rural WONCA conference.

lachlanLachlan McIver, Australia (see Rocket Ship page here)

Lachlan is progressing broad-based primary care to a number of Pacific islands in the Rocket Ship project.

Bradley & Simone, Australia

Brad and Simone are trainees from Australia, but currently experiencing Irish A&E and paediatrics in Dublin.  Simone also gave me a great summary of the John Flynn programme to allow trainees to experience rural health.

Continue Reading ·

Rural WONCA – Day 1

wonca_logo_final_01Over the next four days, the WONCA World Rural Health conference is taking place in Dubrovnik, Croatia. My attendance at this has been supported by RCGP Scotland, in part so that we can hear the latest in what’s happening across the world to tackle ‘hot topics’ in rural healthcare provision, and bring this back home to various groups, including the RCGP Scotland Rural Strategy Group.

I’ll also be presenting some of the work being done in the group – that’s coming up on Saturday, a 10 minute oral presentation sandwiched amongst lots of other interesting topics.

The main aim for me, over the next few days, is to learn as much as possible from how other groups and countries are tackling similar issues, see what collaboration might be possible, and distill down methods and approaches that we could feasibly implement in Scotland.

That is the key word: implementation. So much has been written about the challenges of remote & rural healthcare, and ideas on how to solve them… so many different steering groups, committees and task forces have been set up; but the biggest challenge remains in implementation, and we need to resist the temptation to re-define, re-evaluate, re-consider and re-view the situation. We need more effective, resourced, pragmatic action, aimed absolutely at the ‘coal face’ of rural practice, and build on all the strengths we already have.  We know there needs to be better access for our medical students to rural practice.  There’s so much great work to build on.  Let’s just do it.

And already I’m getting some great perspectives on success stories from other parts of the world.

There’s no doubt that Scotland has had its own successes. In particular, our Rural Fellowship programme (structured but supported and open-minded year for recently-qualified GPs to experience rural practice) seems to be viewed with a degree of envy by our international colleagues… and perhaps ensuring some Scottish representation at WONCA can help encourage others to try implementing their own Fellowship programmes. We all have a lot to learn from each other.

It will also be great to meet individuals who are active on twitter, and normally confined to 140 characters to make their point! Today sees Day 2 of the WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice, followed by the opening ceremony of the conference itself.

I suspect the week will fly past.

My aim however, is to try to capture some of the key elements of the conference to share on  For those who are used to following rural hot topics on twitter, you can keep an eye on events by following the hashtag #woncarural2015 .

Continue Reading ·