Articles and Case Studies

What I Love About General Practice

21 Oct 2015

by Dr Thomas Boosey

I look forward to embarking down the GP pathway and eventually embracing my less certain future – perhaps as a regional GP, sub-specialist, educator, administrator, hospital registrar or possibly even consultant one day. 
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From the five-year-old clutching his “Little Doctor’s Bag” picture book whilst awaiting repair of yet another small wound at the third generation family GP’s surgery – to the bustling medical student with tablet in tow – and now a junior doctor with a “real” doctor’s bag complete with every form known to hospital bureaucracy… I never lost sight of that first passion of wanting to help sick people get better! 

So here are a few reasons why I love General Practice – the most general of specialties:

The CCCP model

Community-based Continuing Comprehensive Preventive primary care

How I long for continuity of care, comprehensively seeing that a patient gets effective care, and being able to offer that little bit of extra consultation time to educate them on preventing further harm or future ill health. All these fantasies I hope to realise in the community setting where efficiencies will be tweaked as joint coordinator of care and small business owner, rather than depending on ill-defined paperwork and out-of-date processes.

Post Graduate Year 2 registrar?

Gone are the days of the junior doctor entering their “hospital” specialty of choice in the first couple of years out of medical school. Yet, as a GP wannabe, take an online quiz and attend an interview in your first (or subsequent) postgraduate year, and you could be on your way to taking your medical career by the horns!

Of course, upon entering General Practice training there are still limits to a trainee’s autonomy and career certainty, especially in light of such variables as:

  • growing competition with 2,245 applicants for 1500 spots in 20151 
  • changes to training providers and organisations, geographic boundaries and college vs government oversight 
  • sustainability of the current funding model prompting professional consideration of the potential pros and cons of allowing private insurers to support patients.

So while the challenge of becoming a GP is far greater than my initial simplification, the GP pathway does offer an unrivalled opportunity to quell those fears of the looming tidal wave of new-age MDs competing for stagnating numbers of “hospital” specialty training spots.

Perky business

I can think of many immediate perks, including but not limited to:

  • access to resources, support and educational opportunities through your college and Regional Training Provider 
  • preferential allocation to Paediatrics while even the poor “Paed-keen beans” have to try, beg and swap for this blessed experience bestowed upon us by our college requisitions 
  • recognition by your hospital that you are a vocational trainee, worthy of more than just a pat on the back (so do check your contractual entitlements).

Need I mention that the specialty program is government-funded and that a whole bunch of other financial incentives become apparent before long?

Though not the be-all and end-all, it’s reassuring to know that even without all those penalty rates for after-hours and weekend work, by choosing the most nine-to-five of specialties you’ll still be earning (in part from saving) a buck while doing something you love.

Extended routine

And on that note, how good does a steady day-time roster, dare I say “routine”, sound compared to night shifts? Yet, even an FRACGP, FARGP or FACRRM will allow for working in a hospital, if and when the time comes, to depart or cut back on private practice and head back to secondary or tertiary care – be it to upskill, embark on another specialty, or give back some of the goodwill as a Visiting Medical Officer to an Emergency Department or in the field of an Extended Skill (RACGP), Specific Interest (RACGP) or Advanced Specialised Training (ACRRM).

As for me, I can’t wait to explore the field of Otolaryngology in more detail. Whether I secure an Extended Skills post at such a pre-eminent specialty hospital as the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital or undertake an academic term teaching medical students while performing ENT research, I cherish this aspect of being a RACGP Registrar. It has created an opportunity akin to doing a pre-registrar post in the “hospital” specialty of one’s interest, albeit with all the bells and whistles of having nearly completed a college fellowship.

Not just tick and flick

In the meantime, I have the lens of General Practice through which to view each new hospital rotation. This makes every discipline I encounter an invaluable learning curve, regardless of the need to have considered training in that specialty.

Like so much of medicine, I love that being a GP will offer me a lifetime of learning and opportunities to contribute positively to the broader society, as well as the reward of helping individual patients directly.

I’m looking forward to embarking down the GP pathway and eventually embracing my less certain future – perhaps as a regional GP, sub-specialist, educator, administrator, hospital registrar or possibly even consultant one day. Who knows where General Practice could lead you?


Dr Thomas Boosey (MDA National Member) 
Junior House Officer at Ipswich Hospital, QLD 
General Practice Registrar
 

Want to know more about becoming a General Practitioner in Australia? Check out the RACGP website: racgp.org.au/becomingagp/.

Reference 

  1. General Practice Education and Training. 2245 Junior Doctors Sit Online Test for GP Training: Media release. [cited 2015 Apr 22]. Available at: gpet.com.au/News-and-events/News-Articles/2245-JUNIOR-DOCTORS-SIT-ONLINE-TEST-FOR-GP-TRAINING.
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