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Overcoming negative perceptions among Australian medical students about a career in general practice

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Encouraging medical students to pursue a career in general practice is a global problem with an Australian solution

General practice is the cornerstone of the Australian health care system, and a critical component of health care systems around the world. However, recruiting a general practice workforce capable of meeting community needs remains a global challenge.

Canada is experiencing a critical shortage of general practitioners, with 14.9% of the population without a GP in 2014.1 Similarly, the United Kingdom faces a severe shortage of GPs, coupled with insufficient numbers of medical students choosing general practice as a career.2 The number of applications for GP training in the UK fell between 2013 and 2015, with 12.4% of training posts unfilled in 2015.3 In the United States, only 11.7% of 2016 residency training positions were for general practice, and 155 places were left unfilled.4 Further, an international study found that general practice is poorly perceived by medical students, with students across seven countries indicating that they were less interested in the specialty, perceiving general practice as less intellectually challenging, with lower prestige and poor remuneration.5

In 2007, Australia was facing a similar situation. Negative…