GP surgeries could be mobilised for students
MEDICAL students could be taught in GP surgeries in far greater numbers than currently occurs under a plan before the federal Government to expand communitybased medical training.
Doctors backing the plan say a ‘‘ critical shortage’’ of clinical teaching opportunities already exists within hospitals and other acute-care facilities, and there is an ‘‘ urgent need for increased capacity to train students’’ in a GP-style or community setting.
The plan — contained in recommendations from a summit of GP training groups held last month — also proposes setting up a network of ‘‘ community clinical schools’’ at university medical schools. These would be modelled on the successful existing network of 14 rural clinical schools, which have grown from the original nine first funded by the federal Government in 2001.
These community centres would effectively be large clinics where students could be trained in a GP-style setting, seeing a range of medical problems not usually encountered in hospital wards where most undergraduate medical placements currently take place.
GP registrars — qualified doctors undergoing further training to become general practitioners — would also help train students in the clinics.
Although registrars in specialist disciplines routinely train more junior doctors in hospitals, GP registrars currently do not do this because GP training is mostly done in small, private GP surgeries, not in hospitals where junior doctors mostly work.
The body that organised the summit, General Practice Education and Training, presented the recommendations to Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott on Friday last week.
GPET handles the federal Government’s $80 million a year budget for training GPs, distributing the money to a network of 21 regionally based training providers.
A GPET document summarising the summit’s outcomes says the plan could provide new opportunities for training the ‘‘ tsunami’’ of medical students resulting from the federal Government’s move to increase medical school places by 81 per cent by 2012. Many senior doctors are already concerned that there will not be enough capacity in public hospitals to supervise and train these extra students.
GPET chairman Simon Willcock said it was also hoped the plan might address the nationwide shortage of GPs by giving more