By LACHLAN MOORHEAD
NESTLED in the heart of Berwick, one can find a health clinic that not only treats patients from throughout Casey, but is also breaking new ground when it comes to guiding medical trainees.
Berwick Healthcare, created in 2011 and located next to Monash University Berwick, is classified as a GP super clinic, a product of the previous Federal Government’s attempt to reform Australia’s health care system to take pressure off hospitals.
Doctor George Zaharias, who treats patients and guides registrars at the Berwick clinic, is at the forefront of this changing tide and recently received the Regional Training Provider (RTP) Innovation and Medical Educator of the Year awards at the annual General Practice Education and Training (GPET) conference.
GPET is a Federal Government organisation which is responsible for general practice training, providing funding to the various training providers around Australia.
The Medical Educator award has been a decade in the making for Dr Zaharias who, in the year 2000, started to reduce his clinical appointments and increase his time spent guiding trainees.
“I gradually found that I really enjoyed it, I really got a lot of personal satisfaction out of it.
“I learnt a lot of things, my skills as a GP improved and then I just wanted to be more and more involved,” Dr Zaharias said.
“I enjoy the interaction. I enjoy the challenge and definitely the progress, when you can see that they (the trainees) then move on and they’re able to put it together better. They’re much more confident in what they’re doing.”
As education enhancement program director at the Victorian Metropolitan Alliance (VMA), Dr Zaharias was instrumental in helping to develop Berwick Healthcare and ensuring it had a specialised training room for registrars – referred to as the Berwick Diagnostic Assessment Centre.
Dr Zaharias said this room is used to film and view the trainees as they treat clients, in order to analyse and educate.
“These are doctors that have graduated and done hospital work and now they’re in a general practice training program.
“They need to get experience over two to three years to get their qualification so they can then practise independently as GPs,” he said.
Dr Zaharias also broke down the term ‘super clinic’ and spoke proudly of the way in which Berwick Health had helped service the local community, as well as providing Monash Berwick’s Student Health Service, in just over two years.
“People have an image of super clinics being those private, corporate, 24-hour clinics – we’re not one of those.
“The term super clinic is really a government term, the previous Labor Government created a lot of super clinics around the country,” he said.
“The idea was that these super clinics would be put in areas of need. It wasn’t just going to be GPs in the clinic, there were going to be other allied health professionals in the clinic as well. Each ‘super clinic’ is very different in the way it’s been set up because it has to serve the needs of the community.
“There are a lot of patients from Casey who had to travel to Monash Medical Centre, in Clayton, so they have certain outpatient clinics here now instead.
“Patients of the hospital don’t have to travel as far.”
Berwick Healthcare is at 76 Clyde Road, Berwick. Bookings and inquiries can be made on 9796 1500 or book an appointment online www.berwickhealthcare.com.au