General practice attracts many misconceptions. Here we take a look at the real face of this generalist specialty.
Reality: General practice is about the full scope of medicine.
- Yes, coughs, colds, paperwork and elderly patients are part of general practice. However, each day is diverse involving all kinds of people and conditions.
- Families and children are a big part of a typical general practice.
- There are numerous minor surgical opportunities. These may include the removal of moles or cysts and applying stitches.
- You can sub-specialise or take on a portfolio of roles at different locations, so you’ll never be bored.
- Diagnosis is at the core of general practice.
Reality: GPs practise complex, challenging medicine every day.
- GPs are on the frontline of medicine as leaders of the multidisciplinary and inter-specialty medical team. They see the first presentation of health and psychological burdens and are responsible for making decisions that will impact the patient’s health outcome.
- Many rare and unusual presentations will be first seen by a GP.
- Due to their broad skills, GPs are equipped to work overseas or in disadvantaged communities.
- As a GP, you never know what will come in the door.
Reality: Australian GPs earn good money.
- The average annual income for a full-time Australian GP is up to $200,000 or more.
- GPs earn a higher average income than most non-medical professionals including lawyers, veterinarians, architects, engineers and accountants.
- Compared to family practitioners elsewhere in the world, Australian GPs are among the highest income earners, above countries like France, Germany and Canada.
- Yes, it is true that GPs on average earn less than some other medical specialists. But many consider a lifestyle of flexible, sociable working hours and part-time options better than money in the bank.
Reality: General practice is officially a specialty and GPs are “general specialists”.
- General practice was recognised as a specific discipline of medicine in 1978, gaining official classification as a medical specialty in 1989. In 1999 the Australian Medical Council (AMC) included general practice as one of 17 specialties then recognised in Australia.
- To be accredited as a general practitioner in Australia requires an additional three to four years of training as a GP registrar, with the endpoint being Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) or the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM).