Government announces improvements to Australian GP training
The Coalition Government has announced another component of its health workforce reform agenda, handing the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program selection to the two General Practice Colleges.
Federal Assistant Health Minister Dr David Gillespie announced the government will invest $220 million per annum on the AGPT and from 2017, for 2018 commencement, the selection of medical graduates for the program will be administered by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM).
Alongside RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel and ACRRM Immediate Past President Dr Lucie Walters, at regional training organisation (RTO) General Practice Training Tasmania (GPTT), Minister Gillespie said that the transfer of the selection function to the colleges was part of the Coalition government’s commitment to strengthen the nation’s primary care capabilities now, and into the future.
“The AGPT program is a government-funded postgraduate vocational training program for medical graduates wishing to pursue a career in general practice in Australia,” Dr Gillespie said.
“The measure the government is announcing today will provide the GP Colleges with a greater role in the management and conduct of GP training. Our government has a great respect and confidence in both of the colleges and this is yet another fine example of the crucial and vital health workforce reform that we will achieve in order to deliver better GPs to all Australians.”
Through the program, medical graduates undertake three to four years of full-time training in urban, regional and rural locations, with 50% of registrar training occurring in rural and remote areas of Australia. Training is predominantly conducted in medical practices and hospitals and is delivered by accredited medical supervisors.
The program is delivered by a network of nine regional training organisations, across 11 training regions nationally, and in accordance with the standards of the RACGP and ACRRM.
“The transfer of this function to the GP Colleges will bring them into line with other Australian specialist medical colleges and the way these colleges select trainees for specialist training pathways and programs,” Minister Gillespie said.
“The cost of each college’s selection process will be met through the introduction of an application fee that is set by each college. The charging of an application fee is consistent with the practice of some other specialist colleges.”
Applications will open in April 2017 and successful registrars will commence training in 2018.
Dr Walters said, “We thank Minister Gillespie and celebrate the introduction of college selection, which will allow ACRRM to select junior doctors who are committed to a future as confident and competent rural and remote doctors.”
Dr Seidel said having the profession control selection, based on contemporary evidence-based criteria, will ensure only the most skilled registrar applicants are granted entry to general practice training.
“By directly managing the process, the RACGP in conjunction with the regional training organisations will be able to better align selection to the knowledge, skills and attitudes required of an RACGP Fellow,” he said.
“Responsibility and oversight at the entry stage of the recruitment program for GPs further endorses our commitment to ensuring GPs are providing the best possible patient care in Australia.”
Regional Training Organisation Network Chair and GPTT CEO Allyson Warrington said, “This announcement enables all RTOs to work closely with the two colleges to transition to the college-led selection model for the upcoming application round, beginning April.”
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