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A vision for GPs

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The training that aspiring GPs receive should be responsive to local health care needs and include greater prevocational rotation opportunities in areas such as paediatrics, obstetrics and anaesthetics, the AMA has said.

Setting out its vision for GP training, the peak medical organisation said that although the current system was world-class, it needed to evolve and improve to make sure it produced practitioners well placed to meet future health care needs.

The AMA said the training system needed to develop a workforce that met individual and community needs, served the most disadvantaged, and achieved health equity.

To do this, GP registrars needed to be trained to the point where they could safely undertake independent practice and viewed professional development and lifelong learning as essential to high quality practice.

AMA President Professor Brian Owler said general practice was the cornerstone of the health system, and the Vision Statement set out what the AMA considered to be core values and priorities of high quality GP training.

“GPs are the first port of call when Australians feel unwell or want health advice, and directly manage 90 per cent of the medical problems they are presented with,” Professor Owler said.

Evidence indicates that most people have a usual general practice or practitioner, and Professor Owler said GPs were a very cost effective part of the health system, accounting for just 7 per cent of total health spending.

The AMA has developed the Vision Statement for General Practice Training 2016 to guide its advocacy on improvements to GP training, and as a way to promote general practice as a career.

There are currently around 4500 registrars undertaking GP training, and there are concerns that not enough medical graduates are opting for a career in general practice.

Professor Owler said that, by highlighting the professional and personal rewards of general practice, the Vision Statement would encourage more to consider it as a career.

The GP workforce is ageing, and is unevenly distributed around the country, providing uneven access to care.

While the big cities have a relatively high concentration of GPs, there is often a shortage in rural areas, and bonded programs and other Government attempts to redress this have met with only limited success.

The AMA has proposed that there be much greater investment in GP training opportunities in regional and rural areas.

The AMA Vision Statement for General Practice Training 2016 is at ama-vision-statement-general-practice-training-2016

Adrian Rollins