The Next Generation: Assisting Emerging Doctors with Career Choices
General Practice Registrars Australia is the peak body for the next generation of general practitioners. The organisation is committed to improving the health care for all Australians through excellence in education and training, and promoting general practice as the medical specialty of choice. Over recent years, GPRA has put together a strong engagement initiative to start a conversation with these new and emerging doctors through a program called GP First.
GP First was designed to increase the number of doctors choosing general practice as their specialty, and to enhance the understanding of the integration between primary and secondary healthcare amongst medical students and junior doctors. It encompasses three key workforce programs – General Practice Student Network (GPSN), Going Places Network (GPN) and First Wave Scholarship Program (FWSP).
The GP First Initiative was started by GPRA in 2007 in response to a range of issues that saw general practice declining in popularity as a specialty of choice among medical students and junior doctors. The image of general practice had become somewhat diminished, and rather than a specialty of choice it was often being regarded as a choice of last resort. Its lack of visible presence within the university and hospital systems was one of the drivers of this decline, prompting GPRA to lobby the then health minister (The Hon. Tony Abbott MHR) for his support and funding for this initiative to ensure this was corrected.
When the program was launched, Tony Abbott emphasised the importance of the links between all stages of GP training. “GPs are critical to our health system. Establishing mentoring between registrars and medical students should promote the discipline in the same way that a good clinical placement in general practice does,” he said.
Since then, the program has come a long way and has expanded in scope as well as size. “GP First has successfully ignited the conversation about general practice as a career specialty of choice in universities and hospitals around the country. “It is the fastest growing medical network in the country,” said CEO of GPRA, Mr Amit Vohra.
The GPSN grew out of an idea from Dr Joe Rotella while he was a student at Melbourne University. Professor Michael Kidd AM (President of the World Organisation of Family Doctors), has been a staunch supporter of the initiative since its inception, and accepted Dr Rotella’s invitation to be Patron of the network. “From a small idea from one medical student, who wanted to ensure that every student was being provided with an opportunity to explore the possibilities of a career as a general practitioner, to the thriving network it is today, this is an exceptional initiative.” said Professor Kidd. And, so it has proved to be.
Both the programs in the GP First program (GPSN and The Going Places network) are run by passionate volunteers - ambassadors for general practice. Each medical school in Australia now has a student executive and 65 per cent of all training hospitals have their own Going Places ambassador.
“A number of studies have focused on what makes medical students and young doctors tick. In spite of the perennial association with money it is refreshing to note that when it comes to picking specialties the next generation of doctors is thinking a bit more than dollars on the table.”
Where to from here?
Dr wYse: the next generation
[caption id="attachment_5797" align="alignright" width="166"] Image 1 - fastest growing medical network in the country 6 years in a row[/caption]
Building on the expertise gained through running these networks, GPRA has recently completed an exhaustive piece of research looking at how Gen Y medical students and recent medical graduates are accessing medical information and how this information is being used to reach a decision on their specialty in medicine. Titled “Dr wYse: the next generation”, this research provides a unique insight into the new breed of doctors coming through.
The multi-method study, (which involved three focus groups and a survey of more than 600 medical students and recent medical graduates) suggests that students are likely to make career decisions based on three key areas; their own experience within a specialty, others experience of a specialty, and the overall impact of lifestyle.
More than half of the respondents actively sought career information from year four of their education. Face-to-face discussions are considered the most comprehensive sources for information. Respondents say they are seeking explanation and clarity with respect to training pathways to aid in their career decisions. They would like to find this information online or through colleges and schools.
Click Images to Enlarge
Left Image: % of respondents actively seeking medical career information in each year of study
Right Image: Types of information which would help respondents to make a decision about a medical career and the location where this information should be available
“The report highlights that the current student generation still refer to traditional sources for career advice. Peer conversations (78%), rotations and experience (59%) and conversations with mentors (46%) were determined as the most common of career information.”
Click Images to Enlarge
Left: Importance of factors associated with a career in general practice % of respondents who marked very important or important
Right: % of respondents indicating their likelihood to pursue a career in general practice
“With a variety of tech-tools in the market and information pouring in from a raft of resources it is reassuring to note that some of the basics haven’t really changed much – the next generation is taking a whole raft of complex areas into consideration when making career choices.”
Left: Drivers analysis chart: an explanation
Right: Satisfaction of information sources for comprehensiveness
Students and recent graduates are making decisions to go into general practice in their early and mid stages of their education, providing peak bodies and training associations with a defined timeframe as to when to target medical students to actively pursue a career in general practice.
Additional mentoring programs and greater face-to-face contact with general practitioners and in-situ experience together with a detailed step-by-step guide would be well received. It needs to be clear and provide timelines, training requirements and demonstration of lifestyle benefits of becoming a GP.
The common conclusion throughout the research from both the focus groups and the online survey was that medical students and recent medical graduates are making their decisions through a combination of face-to-face contact, in-field experience and exposure to others who are experienced in a particular field. The report highlights that the current student generation still refer to traditional sources for career advice. Peer conversations (78%), rotations and experience (59%) and conversations with mentors (46%) were determined as the most common of career information.
The impact on lifestyle (work/life balance) is also an important consideration and while a number of studies have focused on what makes medical students and young doctors tick, it is refreshing to note that when it comes to picking specialties the next generation of doctors is thinking about more than simply the dollars on the table.
With a variety of tech-tools in the market and information pouring in from a raft of resources it is reassuring to note that some of the basics haven’t really changed much – the next generation is taking a whole raft of complex areas into consideration when making career choices.
GPRA would like to acknowledge key stakeholder bodies involved in setting the research scope, which includes, General Practice Education & Training (GPET), North Coast General Practice Training (NCGPT), Northern Territory General Practice Training (NTGPE), The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), and Western Australian General Practice Education and Training (WAGPET). GPRA would also like to thank MIMS Australia & Pfizer who provided unrestricted educational grants to help fund this research.
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