Myths unmasked – the real face of general practice

 

General practice attracts many misconceptions. Here we take a look at the real face of this generalist specialty.

 

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Myth 1:  General practice is about coughs, colds, paperwork and aged care.
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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.

 

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Myth 2:  GPs don’t practise complex and challenging medicine.
 
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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.

 

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Myth 3:  GPs don’t earn much money.
 
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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.

 

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Myth 4: General practice is not a medical specialty.
 
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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).