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John Langill, heading off to new lands

John Langill, CEO, North Coast GP Training (2006 – 2019), looks back on his time skippering the iconic regional organisation.

As I sat down to write about my time with North Coast GP Training, I couldn’t decide whether to take you on a nostalgic journey back to when the company was just starting out, or  concentrate on the wonderful GPs-in-training with whom we worked over the years or perhaps focus on new beginnings, fresh starts and a continuation of the story. 

Let’s go with the last, the future is always more interesting, and if things change then I can’t be held to account!

By now, I hope that many of GPSpeak’s readers have heard the news that North Coast GP Training has been contracted by the North Coast PHN to deliver a range of education and professional development opportunities for GPs, practice nurses, allied health professionals and others supporting primary care in our region. Perhaps many of you might have thought  that we were long gone and had long since sailed over the horizon, which would be understandable.

We did go quiet after we finished delivering the GP training program at the end of 2015, but we never went away. Over the last three  years the Board, myself and a few hearty souls managed to keep the trusty vessel afloat. Although heavily reefed, we kept her ship-shape while keeping our eyes on the horizon for new opportunities.

In last year we came upon our chance when the PHN put their Health Workforce Professional Development project out to tender. With support from some of our closest and wisest colleagues we put together a submission that drew on the values at the core of our organisation from the very beginning. Through the project, we felt we had the opportunity to not only provide much needed professional development events but also to help bring people together by providing networking opportunities that would build important bridges across specialties and professions.

Relationships were always at the heart of the work we did. Call me biased but I like to think that relationships are actually what we did best. Indeed we had a big hand in training over 750 new GP registrars, overseas trained doctors and junior doctors.  More than that though we cared about and invested in our relationships with each and every one of those doctors, their supervisors and their training practices, and this is what made us so successful. 

Moving forward we will carry on that tradition and seek to re-establish many of our old friendships as well as forging many new ones. That’s where the rich rewards of this work come from.

Looking back I can only call it a stroke of good fortune that in 2005 I somehow found my way to North Coast GP Training. Without knowing it at the time, I had fallen into a cause that I would happily commit to for the next 14 years. I had also joined a team that would quickly become like family. When, a year later, the opportunity came to lead that team I knew I could not have asked for a finer, more loyal and talented crew to accompany me on the journey. 

I would love to name and acknowledge them all, but alas, there’s not enough room, but they know who they are.

Now, as we embark on the next leg of our journey, we will be casting a wider net and reaching out to our colleagues in the allied health professions, practice nurses and others working hard to improve the quality and efficiency of the primary care services available to the communities of the NSW North Coast. Yes, we are funded to provide educational opportunities, but we know that our success will continue to rely on building relationships and, dare we be ambitious, to play a small role in fostering a well-connected and integrated community of medical professionals. 

That’s the ultimate destination and I hope all GPs and other healthcare professionals  will join us.

As we set our course for that destination we encourage you to get involved by keeping a watch out for news about how to join your local clinical society or nurse network. In the next few months we will begin publishing a calendar of education events that will be held throughout the region, so stay tuned.

It  is now time for me to step back and let someone new take the helm. In early July, under a happy and fortunate set of circumstances, the NCGPT board appointed Sharyn White as our new CEO. Over the last few weeks I have watched Sharyn breathe new energy and life into the organisation while she busily recruits her team to deliver the next phase of the  project. 

I am hopeful, that over time, some of the old hands will climb back aboard to help Sharyn and the rest of the crew. Already, one has. I know the ship is in good hands and that feels pretty good.

As for me, I’m going to take some time to travel back to the little town where I grew up in upstate New York, there to spend some quality time with my family and to consider what’s next. I suspect the siren song of the beautiful North Coast will call me back before too long and when that happens I look forward to seeing old friends again. Until then, I wish fair winds and sunshine to Sharyn and her new crew. Adventures await!