Will there be a doctor in the house? - Work intentions and opinions of GP Registrars


Aims & rationale/Objectives: The Australian medical workforce is undergoing considerable change with general practice featuring prominently in the process. The work intentions and career opinions of GP Registrars are important in estimating the future supply needs of the Australian primary care workforce. We undertook to examine this in a cohort of current GP Registrars in Western Australia.

Methods: Mail out questionnaires to 147 GP WAGPET registered trainees between October and December 2008. Information was collected on general demographics, reasons for becoming a GP, work and retirement intentions and perceptions of obstacles to general practice.

Principal findings: Response rate was 61%. Seventy-nine percent were female and 82% were Australian graduates. Work flexibility and lifestyle, own skills and aptitudes, intellectual aspects and prior general practice exposure were reported as influential in choosing general practice as a career. Thirty-one percent planned to work in rural and 27% in outer metropolitan practices. Forty-eight percent intended working in 5+ doctor practices and 62% planned to work 5-8 sessions per week. Eighteen percent planned to do home visits, 27% nursing home or hostel visits and 24% indigenous health. Forty-four percent planned retiring before 65 years. Workforce shortages, increasing bureaucracy and poor remuneration were seen as obstacles to choosing general practice as a career.

Implications: Our research has shown that involvement of experienced GPs in health care delivery is waning. Recruiting and training new doctors in sufficient numbers to replace retiring colleagues are critical factors in meeting future workforce demands and ensuring general practice remains a competitive discipline.


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