MY WISHLIST: THE PERFECT GENERAL PRACTICE CLINIC

I have the good fortune of starting work in a brand-new, shiny clinic next week. And not just any clinic – a Superclinic (probably the last of its kind funded before the government changed). It’s an exciting time, particularly for the founding clinical team. The atmosphere is brimming with ideas about innovation, holistic care and creating a workplace we’ll all enjoy sharing.  We sit in planning meetings and each bring our ideas and experience to the table about how to make this General Practice clinic a model of gold-standard primary health care.  It got me thinking – what’s on your wishlist for the ‘perfect’ General Practice?

I was lucky to work in an extraordinary country practice in Camperdown, VIC with a set-up I’d love to emulate. This clinical team had effectively created their own multidisciplinary ‘Superclinic’ with Allied Health on-site, visiting specialists, procedures, and nurse-led preventative health and chronic disease clinics. I only hope we can replicate the exceptional care they offered the locals. While having the government-funded Superclinic infrastructure obviously assists with this endeavor, it’s still up to the individual members of the clinical team to create a workplace that hums.

This is my wishlist for my ideal GP clinic. What’s yours?

1. ‘Gold-Standard’ General Practice Culture

A practice that values evidence-based medicine, continuing medical education and gold-standard practices amongst the doctors and nurses on site. The clinic would be well-regarded by our general practice peers, specialty colleagues and referral hospitals for the quality and standards of the medicine practiced on-site.

2. Integrated Education

A practice set up as an integrated training site with medical students, nursing students and GP registrars. This is not just for the benefit of the students – when we have external observers there to learn, we critique our own knowledge base and skills, and are encouraged to stay up-to-date with our own education in order to offer the best teaching.

3. Supportive & Open Workplace Culture

An open culture of reporting safety issues, complaints handling and disclosure of adverse events is critical. In my ideal clinic, the clinical team would sit down on a regular basis and ‘iron out the creases’ in an open, non-adversarial manner – and would value all staff members’ contributions at the table. It would also encourage debriefing when staff have had upsetting events happen to them.

4. Friendly & Patient-Centred Staff

A practice that encourages friendliness and makes individual patients feel valued.  From the moment they walks in the door, at the reception desk, with the nurses and with the doctors; they feel important and that they will have their needs and worries addressed. We often forget how much ‘healing’ can be achieved simply being listened to and understood.

5. A Non-Judgmental Attitude

Staff who are empathetic and understanding, who understand that patients come from all walks of life, all education levels, and have complex life-stressors. A patient’s frequent non-attendance doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a slack pain-in-the-neck, but perhaps are more in need of the clinic’s support than the tertiary-educated well-dressed gentleman who arrives 15 minutes early for every appointment.

6. A Multi-Disciplinary Clinical Team

A practice that values and exploits the various skills of all of its team members, particularly the practice nurses. My ideal clinic would acknowledge the valuable role of skilled nurses in preventative primary care like asthma education, diabetes education, chronic disease management, wound care and screening programs.  Of course, having Allied Health on site – like psychologists, physios, podiatrists etc – is a wonderful boon to any general practice trying to offer holistic primary care.

I haven’t been working in General Practice all that long – but I’m excited to be in it for a long time to come! For those who have more experience, and have worked in various models – what else would you add to the wishlist?