Investment in general practice workforce pays off for staff and patients

Administrative staff in over 30 general practices across WA are working towards a Certificate IV in Medical Practice Assisting (MPA), so they can better support GPs and practice nurses to deliver excellent patient care.

We have funded this  training initiative for practices enrolled in our Comprehensive Primary Care (CPC) program, which works with general practices to build their capacity and capability to manage patient care.

General Manager Bernadette Kenny says developing the skills of practice staff forms a key part of the whole of practice approach underpinning WAPHA’s CPC model.

“Supporting receptionists to upskill to medical assistants not only results in better support for busy GPs and practice nurses but also leads to increased staff satisfaction and retention.

“It also encourages everyone working in the practice to provide patients with wrap-around care,” Ms Kenny said.

Since enrolling in the course last December, Maddie says it has already had a tremendous impact on her role as a receptionist at a large medical centre in Gosnells.

“It has opened my eyes to new levels of triaging and I have already been able to alert our GPs to two people potentially having heart attacks in the waiting room.

“When a patient walks in the door, I now look at my job role on a whole new level,” Maddie said.

Alyce, a receptionist at a busy family practice in Esperance, says she enrolled in the MPA course to upskill and gain a new perspective on how the practice runs.

“Having a better understanding of what’s happening in a clinical sense will allow me to better support our GPs and practice nurses.

“Helping to find clinical information in patient files or assisting with things like sterilising and organising pathology can free them up to spend more time with patients,” Alyce said.

The Certificate IV in Medical Practice Assisting is a nationally recognised qualification delivered over 18 months using a blend of online and face to face training by UNE Partnerships, a registered training organisation wholly owned by the University of New England (UNE).

Margaret Kirby from UNEP says having a medical assistant in the practice team can provide a multitude of benefits.

“When these graduates complete the course, they will be formally trained to perform a wider range of medical administrative tasks and assist with some treatment room procedures,” Ms Kirby said.

WA Primary Health Alliance is committed to primary care workforce development to address the challenges of an ageing health workforce and the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions in the community.

This includes a commitment to developing and trialing innovative workforce models in rural and remote areas where it can be a challenge to recruit and retain health workforce.

Due to overwhelming demand, WAPHA has exhausted all funded places for the MPA qualification however the course is still available to practices for a fee.

See below for more information on WAPHA’s CPC Program, or contact CPC & HCH Commissioning & Training Manager Dean Beissel on 086272 4929 or UNE can be contacted directly on  1800 066 128 or

About the Comprehensive Primary Care Program: The WA Primary Health Alliance Comprehensive Primary Care (CPC) program is based on the Bodenheimer Patient Centred Medical Home model, and advocates enhanced patient access to comprehensive, coordinated, evidence-based, interdisciplinary care. The role of the medical assistant supports health professionals in CPC practices with coordinated patient care and helps to create a safe and efficient work environment within the practice.