How To Become A GP (General Practitioner) In Australia?

Students want to know how they can become general practitioners in Sydney and Melbourne in Australia.

 

Are you people with immense patience and empathy that thrives on variety? If yes, a career as a General Practitioner could be perfect for you.

 

General Practitioners are the main point of contact for patients and manage their holistic health needs. They diagnose physical and mental ailments, injuries, and disorders and prescribe treatment, including medications, to promote or restore good health.

 

To become a GP in Australia, you must complete your medical training and work as a Resident Medical Officer for 1 to 3 years. Next, apply for a fellowship to become an accredited General Practitioner through the Australian College of Rural Remote Medicine or Royal Australian College of General Practitioners to work independently as a GP in Australia.

 

This blog discusses what a General Practitioner is, what they do, and the educational and training requisites for this role. We also examine the learning pathway to pursue this profession in different cities in Australia.

 

 

1. What Is A General Practitioner?

 

General Practitioners, also called primary care physicians, are responsible for the patient's overall care and well-being. They have broad medical knowledge and skills to examine patients and address their health concerns.

 

General Practitioners specialise in various medical issues for patients of all age groups. They are qualified to provide general health advice and prescribe medications to treat common ailments and minor injuries.

 

While they may not treat specialised health issues, they can guide patients on general injuries and ailments and refer chronic problems to other specialists.

 

 

2. What Does A General Practitioner Do?

 

As a General Practitioner, you perform the following tasks and duties daily:

 

  • Provide competent care that addresses the patient's health concerns and promotes wellness

  • Administer medical treatments, such as immunisations, injections, skin cancer removals, stitches, minor surgical procedures, wound dressing, and other remedial measures

  • Keep up-to-date records of patient's medical information, interactions, and treatments.

  • Stay current in general practice/primary healthcare, including medications and medical treatments.

  • Advise patients on nutrition, diet, exercise, hygiene, health care plans, travel plans, etc., and prescribe medications to avoid or recover from illness

  • Supervise patients' responses to medications and schedule follow-up visits 

  • Order, perform and examine physical examinations such as lab tests, X-rays, and other investigative procedures to determine the nature of illnesses and disorders.

  • Refer patients to specialist medical practitioners, and exchange their medical information with them.

  • Arrange patient's admission to hospital when required

  • Report infectious or transmissible diseases, births, and deaths to government authorities.

  • Immunise patients to prevent ailments

  • Provide pre-natal and post-natal medical care

 

 

3. General Practitioner Skills

 

Since general practitioners interact with diverse populations daily, it is necessary to have exceptional communication skills. Besides this, there are a few more skills needed to work in this role:

 

  • Enjoy working with people

  • Patience

  • Good Listening skills

  • Observation skills

  • Customer service

  • Self-confidence

  • Leadership skills

  • Attention to detail

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Good communication skills

  • Able to work to ethical standards

  • Compassionate towards others

  • Able to handle work stress

  • Good communication and interpersonal skills

  • Good critical thinker 

  • Ability to work in a team or independently

  • Non-judgemental

  • Willing to be a continued learner

  • Strong record-keeping skills

  • Management skills to oversee nurses and physician assistants

  • Good interpersonal skills to help patients feel at ease

  • Likes maintaining proper hygiene and care

 

 

4. What Qualifications Do You Need To Become A GP in Australia?

 

Becoming a General Practitioner in Australia requires several years of formal education and training. You must complete an accredited university-level qualification, an internship, and further specialist training.

 

Here are the steps to qualify for this role:

 

 

Alternatively, complete an undergraduate degree in any other discipline followed by a related postgraduate qualification, like the Doctor of Medicine. Entry into postgraduate courses depends on the bachelor's degree, the Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test score (GAMSAT), and the subsequent semi-structured interview.

 

  • Complete a 1-year accredited internship at a recognised hospital to become eligible for general registration.

  • Apply for general registration with the Medical Board of Australia. Once registered, complete 1-2 more years of Resident training before undertaking a specialist GP training program.

  • Complete a 3-year Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) Program to become a fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), or a fellowship qualification from ACCRM

  • After completing your fellowship, apply for specialist registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. Once you obtain the registration, you can begin working as a fully qualified General practitioner in Australia.

  • Before starting clinical placements, you must undertake a Working with Children Check, a National Police Check, and provide a schedule of immunisations.

 

 

5. Steps To Become A General Practitioner In Australia

 

The below explains the steps to becoming a General Practitioner in Australia:

 

According to the General Practice Registrars Australia, there are two pathways into general practice in Australia. You can gain a General Practitioner's fellowship through two colleges, ACRRM and RACGP.

 

You become eligible to practise as a GP by gaining a fellowship from any of these colleges. Each has varying requirements, so it is necessary to understand them before applying.

 

 

Method 1: ACRRM Fellowship

 

The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine provides a training program that focuses on the requirements of rural communities.

 

The ACRRM pathways leading to a Fellowship include:

 

  • Australian General Practice Training — for experienced doctors and graduates preferring formal and educator-directed learning. The training is through any of the 9 Regional Training Organisations across Australia. The government funds the training, and entry to the program depends on eligibility criteria. The AGPT program is the most common pathway for Australian doctors.

 

  • Rural Generalist Training Scheme – This is a 4-year, fully funded stream of college-led learning pathways that results in a Fellowship of ACRRM.

 

  • Independent Pathway — This is a self-funded method ideal for experienced doctors. Further, it is also great for international medical graduates and Australian citizens who prefer self-directed learning and want to enter rural general practice. 

 

 

Method 2: RACGP Fellowship

 

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners provides education and training for rural and metro GPs. It leads to the Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, which includes:

 

  • The Australian General Practice Training program pathway is for experienced doctors and medical graduates who prefer educator-directed and formal learning. The training is government-funded, and the candidate's selection for training depends on the eligibility criteria assessment. The training is through any of the 9 Regional Training Organisations across Australia.

 

  • Fellowship in Advanced Rural General Practice – It is an additional year of training completed after you complete FRACGP. The FARGP is updated to align with a Rural Generalist Medicine training path and replaced by a 4-year standalone Rural Generalist Fellowship.

 

 

Qualification College Duration Mandatory Hospital Rotations Candidates Available via GPTQ
Fellowship of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine ACRRM 4 years Medicine, Emergency, Surgery, Obstetrics, Gynaecology, Anaesthetics Rural Pathway Registers Yes
Fellowship of The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners RACGP 3-years Medicine, Emergency, Surgery, 3 others in areas relevant to general practice All Registrars Yes
Fellowship in Advanced Rural General Practice (FRACGP + FARGP) RACGP 4-years As above for FRACGP All registrars. FARGP includes rural components and will have to be done in a rural setting Yes

 

 

General Practice Training Queensland and GP Synergy offer best-in-class medical education and individualized GP training through medical educators to ensure trainees maximize their learning outcomes.

 

They appoint Registrar liaison officers to advocate for trainees as a junior member of the practice. It ensures students have access to unbiased assistance for contracts, communication, pay negotiations, and personal matters.

 

GPTQ also conduct pre-exam workshops to help GP trainees prepare the best for their college exams. The workshops comprise specific clinical reasoning sessions where they will meet with fellow registrars, medical educators, and supervisors to review and analyze cases.

 

Medical educators and supervisors at GPTQ conduct regular progress testing exams to assess trainees' performance.

 

 

6. Steps To Become A GP (General Practitioner) In Australia

 

 

  • Step 1: The University of Sydney presents two learning pathways to students aspiring to become a GP. They can enter a medicine program right from high school or post completing a bachelor's degree. Most students enter Medical School by completing a bachelor's degree that requires gaining the Year 12 certificate and a specific ATAR. (Other universities in Australia, such as the University of Melbourne etc., offer similar courses and paths)

 

  • Step 2: Take the Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test and apply for entry into medicine and health programs at the university. You require a minimum score of 50 for the Doctor of Medicine at the University of Sydney. Students with a satisfactory GAMSAT score and grade point average attend an interview to enter the Doctor of Medicine at Sydney. 

 

  • Step 3: Shortlisted candidates can further study for a 4-year Doctor of Medicine. The University of Sydney conducts two double-degree general practitioner university courses for this:

 

 

Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Medicine

 

  • Entry score: 99.95 ATAR

  • Duration: 7 years full-time (3-year undergraduate arts degree followed by the 4-year Doctor of Medicine)

  • Location: Camperdown/Darlington University of Sydney

  • Study mode: Face to face

 

 

Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Medicine

 

  • Entry score: 99.95 ATAR

  • Duration: 7 years full-time (3-year undergraduate science degree followed by the 4-year Doctor of Medicine)

  • Location: Camperdown/Darlington University of Sydney

  • Study mode: Face to Face

 

 

  • Career Paths For Both DegreesGeneral practitioner or specialist, Surgeon, Researcher, Forensic anthropologist, Government policy officer, Medical journalist, Aid worker, Teaching, and Medical Administration.

 

 

  • Step 4: After completing a medical degree, complete an intern year (47 weeks) in a public hospital. Also, six weeks before completing a medical degree, apply for provisional registration with the Australian Medical Board to complete the supervised year of practice. You can do this online by filling out an online form.

 

  • Step 5: After you complete an accredited intern year in Australia or NZ, obtain general medical registration through the Medical Board of Australia. Practising graduates need to renew their registration yearly to keep it active throughout their careers. International medical graduates must complete one year of approved supervised practice in Australia before getting their general registration.

 

  • Step 6: Complete one or more years of prevocational training as Resident Medical Officers to prepare for medical speciality programs. The training duration vary based on the speciality you choose.

 

  • Step 7: Apply for admission into a medical speciality training program through speciality colleges like the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine or The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

 

  • Step 8: Once you complete the speciality training, you can obtain a fellowship via a speciality medical training program. You can practice medicine independently as a specialist physician, surgeon, or GP.

 

 

7. How To Become GP After Nursing In Australia?

 

Nurses who have completed a bachelor's degree in nursing, a diploma in nursing, or an associate's degree in nursing and are looking for greater responsibility should consider a career as a doctor. 

 

Your experience as a nurse may give you a head start in this profession. However, completing a medical degree to specialize in certain areas and a residency to move up in the ranks is still necessary.

 

Follow the below steps to becoming a doctor:

 

  • Register for the Medical College Admission Test and start studying for it. Pass the test with a great score to apply to medical school and complete your 4-year medical degree. The Australian Medical Council conducts the MCAT test and assesses your knowledge of sciences and verbal reasoning skills.

 

  • You need an undergrad degree with minimum GPA requirements and 75% on the MCQ exam to study for the following courses in a medical school: Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, Bachelor of Medical Sciences, Bachelor of Medical Science, and Graduate Diploma in Medicine, and Graduate Diploma in Surgery.

 

These are 4-year courses that comprise the first two years of lab and classroom experience. In the 3rd and 4th years, you have to work under the supervision of an experienced physician to gain work experience.

 

  • After earning your medical degree, you must complete 2-4 years of a residency program that gives experience in a specialized area.

  • Obtain a Fellowship if you seek advanced knowledge in a specific field. Fellowships can be up to 5 years in length based on the type of your specialization.

 

 

National Resources:

 

 

 

8. How To Become A GP In Australia From Overseas?

 

Are you a foreign-trained doctor and want to work as a GP in Australia?

 

Doctors trained outside of Australia or NZ must complete a compulsory 12-month training program in Australia. To register, they must pass a series of exams conducted by the Australian Medical Council.

 

Besides solid professional knowledge, you must have a solid grasp of English to pass the exams. Once you clear these exams, foreign-trained nationals become eligible to get registered to work in Australia. 

 

Once registered, they can begin their job search or quickly apply for a visa and look for employment after moving to Australia.

 

 

Assessment Pathways To Registration For Overseas Medical Graduates 

 

Candidates with a "Doctor of Medicine" from a medical school outside of Australia or NZ seeking registration to practise medicine in Australia must meet eligibility criteria to undertake any one of the below pathways:

 

  • Competent Authority pathway 

  • Specialist pathway  

  • Standard pathway

 

These assessment processes evaluate the skills and knowledge of International Medical Graduates looking to qualify for medical registration in Australia.

 

 

The Competent Authority Pathway

 

This pathway is for overseas-trained non-specialists and specialists, including GP leading to general registration.

 

Candidates who have passed recognized examinations or finished training through the Medical Board of Australia-approved competent authority can apply for assessment under this category.

 

On passing the assessment, you can apply directly to the Medical Board of Australia for provisional registration.

 

 

The Specialist Pathway

 

This pathway is for overseas-trained specialists who want to have their knowledge and skills assessed against the standards of a specialist in Australia. This is for certain specialist positions.

 

Overseas Medical Graduates must have received a primary qualification in medicine and surgery from a training institution recognized by the World Directory of Medical Schools, the Australian Medical Council.

 

Further, they must have fulfilled the training and assessment requirements to practise in their speciality in their nation of training to apply for assessment under this category.

 

Candidates can apply directly to the relevant specialist medical college for the assessment using a Board application form (AAMC-30) before they apply to the Medical Board of Australia registration.

 

They must undertake short-term (usually up to 24 months) training in a medical speciality pathway. Once trained, IMGs must qualify for specialist registration through the specialist pathway.

 

 

The Standard Pathway

 

This pathway is for overseas-trained doctors who aren't eligible for the Specialist or Competent Authority pathway and seek general registration with the Medical Board of Australia. 

 

International Medical Graduates with a primary qualification in medicine and surgery from a training institute recognized by the World Directory of Medical Schools and the Australian Medical Council can apply for assessment under this category.

 

They must pass the AMC CAT MCQ Examination to become eligible to apply to the Medical Board of Australia for registration.

 

 

9. How Much Does A GP Earn In Australia?

 

A national average general practitioner's salary is AU$129,431 per year. Their annual Salary varies based on their geographical and years of experience.

 

 

Estimated Salary based on Experience:

 

  • Entry-level General Practitioners (<1-year experience): AU$97,701 per year

  • Early career General Practitioners (1-4 years of experience): AU$118,365 per year

  • Mid-career General Practitioners (5-9 years of experience): AU$149,116 per year 

  • Experienced General Practitioners (10-19 years of experience): AU$169,161 per month 

 

 

Estimated Salary Based On Work Location:

 

Following are the high-paying cities for General Practitioners in Australia:

 

  • Meadowbrook: $250,843 per year

  • Sydney: $239,856 per year

  • Sunshine Coast: $237,200 per year

  • Brisbane: $234,602 per year

  • Canberra: $233,924 per year

  • Melbourne: $231,905 per year

  • Gold Coast: $230,786 per year

  • Perth: $230,757 per year

 

 

10. Working Conditions For A Medical Practitioner

 

General practitioners work mainly within clinical environments. They often provide healthcare services for entire families, including arranging medical investigations and diagnostic tests like lab tests and x-rays, providing medical consultation, and attending to emergencies.

 

General practitioners work with nurses, medical assistants, and office staff all day and participate in research activities.

 

The job may involve dealing with patients who exhibit unpleasant conditions due to illness or injury. That is the reason they must adopt strict hygiene practices.

 

Specialized general practitioners may work irregular and long hours, including working at night and on weekends and being on call 24 hours a day.

 

 

11. Where Do General Practitioners Work?

 

There is a high demand for GPs throughout Australia, in cities, rural and regional areas. A qualified general practitioner can work in the following settings:

 

  • In partnership with another medical practitioner

  • In a group practice with several doctors

  • In community health centres and public hospitals 

  • Run a private practice 

 

The Australian Defence Force recruits medical practitioners as Navy Doctors working on-shore and off-shore to provide medical assistance to personnel.

 

Some general practitioners also offer virtual assistance to their patients - prescribe medications online and answer their health-related queries. It depends on the state licensing requirements and their practice.

 

 

12. Areas of Specialization

 

A General Practitioner provides health care to individuals and families in their communities. Based on their interests, they may consider gaining advanced knowledge in a wide range of areas, such as:

 

  • Paediatrics

  • Gynaecology

  • Oncology

  • Obstetrics

  • Radiology

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

  • Pathology

  • Rural health

  • Gynaecology

  • Aerospace medicine

  • Refugee health

 

 

Depending on their specialization, GPs can work in the following specialist roles:

 

  • Dermatologist

  • Emergency Medicine Practitioner

  • Intensive Care Medicine Practitioner

  • Medical Administrator

  • Obstetrician and Gynaecologist

  • Paediatricians and Child Health Practitioners

  • Pain Medicine Practitioner

  • Palliative Medicine Practitioner

  • Pathologist

  • Physician

  • Psychiatrist

  • Public Health Medicine Practitioner

  • Radiologist

  • Rehabilitation Medicine Practitioner

  • Sexual Health Medicine Practitioner

  • Sport and Exercise Medicine Physician

  • Surgeon

  • Addiction Medicine Practitioner

  • Anaesthetist

  • General Practitioner

  • Medical Practitioner

  • Occupational and Environmental Medicine Practitioner

  • Ophthalmologist

  • Radiation Oncologist

 

 

13. Job Prospects of General Practitioners In Australia

 

ANZSCO OCCUPATION GROUP: 253111 General Practitioners

 

General practitioners play a prime role in Australia's healthcare system. They are involved in several areas of medicine and positively influence a diverse range of patients.

 

These qualified doctors care for people from all walks of life and with all medical concerns. They focus on the holistic health needs of the person, combining psychological, physical, preventative, and social aspects of care.

 

Employment opportunities for general practitioners depend on various factors, including:

 

  • Birth and death rates 

  • Population levels and movements

  • Changing patterns of injury and illness

  • Technological advances in healthcare

  • The trend toward preventative medicine

  • The cost of medical treatment and health insurance to the patient

 

Where most cities and major towns have adequate medical practitioners, there are shortages in a few cities and rural and remote areas.

 

 

Working Arrangements

 

Around 72% of people working as General Practitioners work full-time for an average of 46 hours per week. (All jobs average: 44 hours per week).

 

 

Primary Industries For Employment

 

  • Health Care And Social Assistance: 95.5%

  • Public Administration And Safety: 1.8%

  • Education And Training: 0.6%

  • Professional, Scientific, And Technical Services: 0.3%

  • Other Industries: 0.9%

 

 

Employment Across Australia

 

  • New South Wales: 31.0%

  • Victoria: 25.3%

  • Queensland: 21.5%

  • South Australia: 7.6%

  • Western Australia: 9.6%

  • Tasmania: 2.1%

  • Northern Territory: 1.0%

  • Australian Capital Territory: 1.8%

 

 

Worker's Age And Gender Profile

 

  • Average Age (in years): 45 years, with most between 35 to 44 years (All jobs average: 40 years)

  • Female Share: 45% of the total workforce (All jobs average: 48 years)

 

 

14. How Long Does It Take To Become A General Practitioner In Australia?

 

It can take 10 to 15 years of continuous education and training to become an accredited General Practitioner in Australia.

 

 

15. How Hard Is It To Become A GP In Australia?

 

The road to becoming a general practitioner is long and rigorous. 

 

You will have to attend university to study for a medical degree and complete thorough additional training to qualify to practice as a GP in Australia. You can accomplish your goal quickly if you are passionate about health, biosciences, and caring for people.

 

 

16. Conclusion

 

A career as a general practitioner can be a demanding yet rewarding career. Working in this role, you get exposure to several different aspects of medicine and further specialize in the area that interest you most.

 

No other medical specialization tests you in the same manner while putting you right in the core of your community, assisting a wide and varied population. Furthermore, you get the flexibility to start your practice. 

 

So, if you are ready to commit to this lengthy and gruelling professional journey, follow the above steps to accomplish your career aspirations.

 

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