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Breaking down the barriers to GP training

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With recent increases in medical student numbers and the flow-on effect through the training pathway, there is a growing need to increase the number of GPs who teach.

Currently, only 10 to 20 per cent of vocationally registered GPs teach, or are accredited to teach.

This low uptake highlights the need to address a range of barriers that stand in the way in order to encourage GPs and general practices get more involved in this crucial role.

AMA advocacy has directly resulted in the new Government committing $119 million to increase the Practice Incentive Program Teaching Incentive (for medical students), and $52.5 million in GP Infrastructure Grants to support, among other things, improved facilities for teaching and training.

The AMA Council of General Practice has identified a number of barriers to teaching in general practice, and is working on further policy initiatives to address these barriers.

Your views on which barriers are the most significant will help inform this work.

The AMA will shortly survey GPs about this issue, and I encourage you all to participate. The findings of the survey will be released during Family Doctor Week (21-27 July 2014).

Despite the need to expand the number of teaching practices, it is concerning to hear from colleagues about their frustration at not being selected for a GP registrar placement, particularly when nearby practices are being pressured to take on more registrars. 

Is this due to some problem with the allocation processes of the Regional Training Provider (RTP)? Or, is it due to practices and GPs not being given the level of support required from the RTP to be a training practice of choice?

According to General Practice Education and Training (GPET), RTPs have the responsibility to manage the supply and demand issues associated with registrar training and practice placements.

However, it doesn’t make sense to me that some are being denied the opportunity while others are being pressed to do more.

We also need to ensure that those who want to become involved in training do not face an overly bureaucratic application process.

Recently, a colleague told me of a training provider who wanted certified copies of his medical degree. I would have thought a search of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency’s (AHPRA) Register of Practitioners would have provided suitable confirmation of qualifications. 

With support for teaching in general practice a priority area for the AMA Council of General Practice, we will certainly be looking into these matters further.

I would be interested in hearing more about your experiences with GP registrar and student placements, so please do not hesitate to email me your views at gpnn@ama.com.au