Editors: Kate George, Ken Liu
Are you interested in a career in General Practice? As applications for General Practice training are currently open, it is an ideal time to consider this highly rewarding career.
General Practice is an exciting career, with true diversity in all aspects. There are opportunities to focus on a range of subspecialty areas as a GP. Whether you are interested in procedures, dermatology, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, geriatrics, or mental health (to list only a few special interests of GPs), these can be incorporated into your practice.
GPs are privileged to meet patients of all age groups, and all walks of life. What is potentially most rewarding, however, is the opportunity to care for patients during periods of health, as well as sickness – truly walking life’s journey together.
GPs have opportunities to complement clinical practice with other career paths. Academic and research roles are available, including during training. The education and supervision of medical students and trainee doctors is an important focus for many GPs, and there are many opportunities to become involved in teaching. GPs may work in medicolegal roles, clinical governance, or on other projects such as medical writing. GPs are ideally placed to develop Primary Health Networks, which aim to improve coordination of care and health outcomes, particularly for at-risk groups.
There are options for where you practise and train, with candidates being able to choose between rural and metropolitan training pathways. Flexibility between full-time and part-time work is crucial for many trainee doctors, and GP training accommodates this, reflecting the long-term potential for a healthy work-life balance.
As a GP Registrar in my first term, the idea of holistic care already feels meaningful and relevant to my daily practice. Currently I am working in the northern suburbs of Sydney, Australia, and enjoying meeting people of diverse backgrounds, while learning about a vast array of specialties. Already I have experienced the joy of sharing good news, the sadness and disappointment of breaking bad news, and the satisfaction of developing an ongoing therapeutic relationship with patients (and often, with families). Preventive health is a key focus in General Practice, and I have learnt a great deal about this and the quiet satisfaction one gets from subtly changing people’s health and health behaviours for the better.
Not all GP Registrars have the same professional experiences as me. GP Synergy, the Regional Training Organisation (RTO) for three regions across New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, offers a wealth of Registrar profiles. These profiles highlight some of the truly inspiring and exciting career pathways many of our colleagues have embarked upon.
Vocational training in the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program is the most common way to become a GP. Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) can be achieved in three years full-time with an optional fourth year, and Fellowship of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) can be achieved in four years full-time. Fellowship of either or both Colleges can be pursued by Registrars during their training years.
Information about eligibility for the training program is available on the AGPT website. Doctors can apply as early as post-graduate year one, during internship. A Paediatrics term must be completed prior to starting GP placements. For RACGP training, a hospital training year will count towards training time. For many Registrars, this year is their residency year. Recognition of prior learning can be sought, so residency can be counted retrospectively as a Hospital Training year. Following the hospital training year, GP Registrars complete three General Practice terms in different practices, each lasting six months. During training, Registrars complete an extended skills term lasting six months, in a field of their own choice. ACRRM offers several pathways towards Fellowship, with details available on their website.
Examination requirements to become a Fellow of the RACGP involve written examinations (the Applied Knowledge Test, and Key Feature Problems), and an Objective Structured Clinical Exam (practical OSCE). To achieve Fellowship of ACRRM, assessments include a Multiple Choice Question exam, Case Based Discussion, Structured Assessment using Multiple Patient Scenarios (StAMPS), Multi-Source Feedback, and a Procedural Skills Logbook. Information about assessments is available on each of the Colleges websites.
The RACGP and ACRRM each have a selection process, with information about their respective processes available on their websites. Regional Training Organisations (RTOs) are also involved in the selection process and can be contacted for questions regarding the training program itself. A list of RTOs, arranged by location, can be found here.
Although the application process has changed since I began the program, my advice to those applying is to be genuine and thoughtful in your answers to interview questions. Consider what General Practice means to you, what skills you believe a GP requires, what opportunities you are interested in, and what you would hope to learn as you begin this career.
Good luck to all embarking upon the application process for this highly rewarding career.
Applications are currently open, until 10.00am AEST 8 May 2017. This year, the selection process will be led by the RACGP, and ACRRM. Applicants can choose to apply to either or both Colleges. The online application is available on both the RACGP website and on the ACRRM website. For any difficulties completing the application form, the AGPT Eligibility team is available to be contacted. The next step involves an eligibility check by the AGPT, following which the applications are passed onto the RACGP and ACRRM. At that point, there is an application fee for eligible applicants.