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Changes in medical education to help physicians meet future health care needs

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Generalist training may be a solution for responding to future population health needs

Health care needs are changing due to the rapidly ageing population and the increasing number of patients with long term conditions and comorbidities.1 This has occurred at a time of continuing maldistribution of the medical workforce in Australia and increased specialisation and subspecialisation within the medical profession and the medical education system. As the next generation of doctors will need to serve an older population and those with more than one condition, a more useful focus would be “much less on narrow disease silos and … more on the breadth of possible permutations of co-morbidity”.1 Long periods of training and increasing subspecialism may also lead to difficulty in changing the scope of practice in times of surplus or reluctance to move to geographic areas with medical workforce shortages.2 For example, despite increasing numbers of medical graduates in Australia, there are existing shortages in generalist specialties, such as general practice, general medicine and psychiatry, and many rural communities still have reduced access to medical care compared with urban populations.2 Do current models and degree of specialisation encountered in medical training optimally prepare physicians to serve…