By Dr Andrew Gosbell (PhD)
Medical school Is an academically challenging and inspiring time. As you undertake your clinical placements and think about becoming a doctor there is a fantastic array of interesting and exciting career options to explore.
One of the important things to think about, when considering your future specialty and career pathway, is where will the jobs be once you have finished the eight to 12 years (or more) of training, from medical school to specialist fellowship,
Over the past decade, an increasing number of students have commenced and progressed through medical school and post-graduate training programs to meet the current, and projected future, need for doctors to care for the Australian community.
The need for doctors varies quite significantly depending upon location and speciality.
Oversupply and undersupply
Government medical workforce data shows that for many specialities-such as anaesthetics, emergency medicine, and intensive care medicine-medical practitioners currently are, and likely to continue to be, in oversupply.
Consultant jobs in these disciplines-particularly sought after full-time positions and in metropolitan areas are already scarce and highly competitive, and will continue to be so in future years.
Workforce data shows that there is a current undersupply of GPs.
With over one third of GPs aged over 55 years and nearly one quarter intending to retire from practicing medicine within the next five years, it is little wonder that very few (14 per cent) current GPs in training are concerned about being able to get a job on completion of their training program compared to (59 per cent) registrars in other specialty training programs.
Rural and regional areas
General practice offers strong prospects of future employment, especially in regional and rural areas, with progressive undersupplied forecast over the ten years to 2030.
Careers in general practice provide doctors the opportunity to work in flexible ways, to pursue areas of special interest in their clinical practice, and to be able to practice medicine in virtually any location and setting throughout Australia.
Doctors in most rural and regional areas (and some outer-urban locations) continue to be short supply.
Specific general practice training pathways in the discipline area of rural generalism, enable doctors to develop additional skills for working in rural and remote settings.
While your medical training should be interesting. challenging and fulfilling, most would say that having a job at the end of vocational training is equally as important general practice offers a win-win of both a rewarding, flexible career with strong employment prospects.
Dr Andrew Gosbell was CEO of GPRA from 2016 to 2021.
Scoping Framework for the National Medical Workforce Strategy, 2019.
General Practice: Health of the Nation 2020.
General Practice: Health of the Nation 2019.
Deloitte Access Economics General Practitioner workforce report 2019.