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WA Country Health Service program places 23 trainee psychiatrists in regional WA, including one in Geraldton

Jessica MoroneyGeraldton Guardian
Rural Psychiatry Training WA trainee doctors sent to regional WA.
Camera IconRural Psychiatry Training WA trainee doctors sent to regional WA. Credit: WACHS

A first-of-its-kind rural training program has introduced 23 trainee psychiatrists to regional WA, including one in Geraldton, allowing further access to mental health services in the Mid West.

The WA Country Health Services’ inaugural Rural Psychiatry Training program has seen 20 trainees start in February, with eight based in the South West, six in the Great Southern, four in the Kimberley and one in both the Mid West and Wheatbelt. Three more psychiatry trainees will start their training in August.

Trainees will work with senior rural psychiatrists and have the opportunity to gain experience across acute clinical settings, child and adolescent services and consultation liaison. Other rotations include adult psychiatry, older-age psychiatry, addiction and community mental health services.

A WACHS spokesperson said the number of trainees in each region was determined by the availability of supervisors who could oversee trainees and they were working hard to increase the number of accredited posts in the Mid West in the future.

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The trainees will complete their training placement at the location and can stay there for up to five years to obtain a fellowship and completing a full training term.

Accredited by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, the program is the first dedicated rural training zone in Australia or New Zealand.

WACHS said trainees have access to support pathways developed to assist them and their family to relocate and settle into regional WA as well as peer support and mentoring opportunities.

Executive director of mental health Paula Chatfield said the postings highlighted WACHS’ commitment to increasing health care staff and supporting mental health care in rural WA.

“This cohort is trailblazing a new era of country healthcare, where our workforce is not only growing but is specially trained to meet the diverse and unique needs of country communities,” she said.

“The new trainees can look forward to developing their experience and clinical expertise in diverse communities — an opportunity that they wouldn’t usually get in a metropolitan area. They’ll be learning from the best educators and specialists in country WA.”

WACHS says further regional posts are planned in the future.

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