After nearly three decades working in commercial and corporate law, Kathie Sadler describes stepping into the role of CEO at General Practice Training Queensland (GPTQ) in 2019 as a game changer.
“I have spent many years working in high level corporate environments, where I thrived on the challenge and enjoyed building my negotiation and governance skills, but this role has affected me in new ways,” Kathie says.
“GPTQ is an organisation that has a direct impact on primary healthcare outcomes and it feels deeply important to be using my skills and experience in this realm.”
Harnessing opportunities for innovation
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it major challenges, but Kathie says she and the GPTQ Executive Leadership Team have worked hard to approach the crisis as an opportunity for innovation.
“We are operating within a new environment and there are challenges, but there are also new opportunities,” she says. When the country went into lockdown in March, GPTQ had been preparing to transition to a new IT platform. The transition, slated to occur over several months, was swiftly fast-tracked.
“It was going to provide us with much greater agility and capability — particularly with digital communication — so we just did it,” Kathie explains.
The COVID crisis also prompted a ‘rethink’ of operational management.
“I have expanded our management and leadership teams to fine tune responsibilities and encourage more joint decision-making,” Kathie explains.
“We now have regular scheduled meetings between all of the teams so everyone is involved and engaged. All the cogs in our machine are working together collaboratively.”
Advocating for general practice
Since the pandemic began GPTQ has been a part of weekly COVID-19 Queensland Health Emergency Coordination Centre (SCHECC) teleconferences.
“We share the information we are getting from practices on the frontline and we advocate for our Registrars, Supervisors and practice staff,” Kathie says. “These are unprecedented times and general practice needs to be supported at every turn.”
Keeping Registrars connected
COVID-19 has meant re-imagining how some aspects of GP education and training are delivered. “We have had to find new and innovative ways to make sure the interactions and touch points that are so important for our Registrars are still there,” Kathie says.
“COVID has presented at a time when we have the technology to maintain high levels of connection between our Educators and Registrars and for that we’re grateful.”
GPTQ works in close partnership with the RACGP and ACRRM to deliver education and training that shapes exceptional GPs.
“Excellent primary healthcare is the backbone of our communities,” Kathie says. “We look at every cohort of Registrars as our best advertisement for general practice, because if their training experience sets them on a path to a fulfilling career we know we’ll have people knocking at the door to join this wonderful profession.”
Taking GP education to the next stage
A transition is underway in the world of general practice education and training. By 2022 training responsibilities will have been transferred from the Commonwealth Department of Health to the Colleges. “We are excited about the opportunities this will bring,” Kathie says.
General practice is vital
Coming from a professional background outside of medicine, Kathie says she was surprised to discover general practice is not always given the recognition it deserves.
“In the minds of a lot of people general practice is not afforded the same respect as other medical specialties and I wasn’t aware of that before coming to work for GPTQ,” she explains.
“This is mystifying to me because, as a mother of three very active children (now in their 20s), our family GP has always has been an important part of our life,” she says.
Kathie brings decades of experience in law and management as well as a deep passion and commitment to training the next generation of GPs