How to become a GP in Australia?

GP doctor

A career as a general practitioner (GP) is highly rewarding because you can come home from work each day knowing you have made a valuable contribution to Australia's communities. It allows medical professionals to serve as primary healthcare providers and offer general health advice to the community. The process of becoming a GP in Australia involves a series of stages, including high school, medical school, and general practice training through the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program.

Starting from high school, aspiring GPs should focus on achieving strong results in Year 12, particularly in science subjects such as biology, chemistry, and physics. These subjects provide a solid foundation for medical studies and can contribute to a competitive application for medical school.

Upon completing high school, candidates must take the Medical School Admissions Test (MSAT) to gain entry into an Australian medical school. This test assesses a candidate's aptitude for medical studies and their potential for success in the field. It is crucial to prepare well for this test, as it serves as a critical point of contact between aspiring doctors and medical schools.

Once accepted into medical school, students will undertake a comprehensive curriculum that includes theoretical and practical knowledge in various aspects of medicine. Typically, medical degrees in Australia take five to six years to complete, depending on the university and program structure.

Following medical school, graduates need to complete a one-year internship, during which they gain hands-on experience in various hospital departments, including surgery, emergency medicine, and general medicine. This internship is a crucial step in building practical skills and serves as a bridge between academic learning and real-world practice.

After completing the internship, candidates must apply for the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program, which provides comprehensive GP training for aspiring doctors. The AGPT program is designed to equip candidates with the necessary skills and knowledge to provide high-quality primary healthcare services to the Australian community.

The AGPT program typically takes three to four years to complete, during which candidates gain experience in various aspects of general practice, including rural and remote settings. Upon successful completion of the AGPT program, candidates are eligible to apply for Fellowship with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) or the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM). Achieving Fellowship status signifies that a doctor is qualified to practice independently as a GP in Australia.

There are many great reasons to specialise in GP, aside from being one of Australia's most sought-after medical specialties, GPs work across a variety of areas of medicine meaning no day is ever the same. Rural GPs are in high demand across Australia, and working a rural GP allows you to give back to Australia's remote and most in-need communities.

How to become a GP in Australia at a glance

To become a GP in Australia you must complete the following:

  • Complete a Bachelor of Medical Studies or Doctor of Medicine.
  • Complete a 1-year internship at a recognised hospital where you will work across different departments.
  • Apply for general registration with the Medical Board of Australia.
  • Undertake 1-2 training as a resident before entering a specialist training program
  • Obtain a GP fellowship. To become a fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). You can choose to include rural practice training in your program, however, this will include a further year of training.

Is it hard to become a GP in Australia?

Becoming a GP is a long road that includes obtaining your medical degree, completing residency training, and then your fellowship, but at the end of it, you will find yourself with an extremely rewarding career with many great job opportunities across Australia.

Are GPs in demand in Australia?

Yes, General Practice is one of the most in-demand specialties across Australia. Practices and clinics are seeking GPs not only in the metro areas but also to work in regional, rural, and remote areas of Australia. Some people in some of these regions currently do not have access to the health and medical services they need. Filling these roles means you will be helping where you are much in need.

Australia is witnessing a steady demand for General Practitioners (GPs), largely due to the rapidly changing health dynamics of its population. This growing demand is driven by a variety of factors, from shifting demographic trends to changes in the healthcare delivery system, and the rising prevalence of chronic diseases.

Australia’s population is rapidly aging, with a projected rise in the number of people aged 65 and over expected to double over the next four decades. This increase in the elderly population is leading to a higher demand for healthcare services, particularly primary healthcare, which is predominantly provided by GPs. With older individuals often requiring more frequent and complex medical attention, the role of GPs becomes vital in managing chronic health conditions, preventive care, and serving as a hub for referrals to specialist care.

The shift towards patient-centred healthcare, with an emphasis on preventive medicine and early intervention, is also boosting demand for GPs. As frontline providers, GPs play an integral role in managing population health, promoting wellness, and potentially reducing the need for hospitalisation and specialist interventions. The COVID-19 pandemic further amplified the role of GPs, with an increased reliance on primary care for testing, patient education, and the distribution of vaccines.

Australia also grapples with the urban-rural divide in healthcare access. While the major cities are generally well-served, rural and remote regions of Australia face a notable shortage of GPs. This disparity in access to primary care contributes to the overall demand for GPs. Government initiatives and incentives to attract GPs to these underserved areas, while partially successful, have not fully addressed the shortfall.

Furthermore, changes in workforce dynamics are adding to the demand. Aspiring medical professionals are increasingly attracted to specialties over general practice, contributing to a gap in the GP workforce. Additionally, a large proportion of the current GP workforce is nearing retirement age, which will necessitate new GPs to replace them.

The rising prevalence of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and mental health issues calls for comprehensive and ongoing care that GPs are uniquely positioned to provide. This trend is expected to contribute significantly to the demand for GPs in the coming years.

In summary, the demand for GPs in Australia is influenced by a myriad of factors ranging from demographic shifts, changes in healthcare delivery, workforce dynamics, and the increasing burden of chronic diseases. Addressing this demand will necessitate strategic efforts from various stakeholders in the medical industry to ensure an adequate supply of GPs and maintain the effective delivery of primary care services across the nation.

How much do GPs earn in Australia?

The average annual salary for GPs in Australia is $350,000. 

GPs with Fellowship recognized by RACGP (Royal Australian College of General Practitioners) with no restrictions can expect to earn around $150 per hour or 70% of the billings, whichever is greater.

Often in permanent roles, you’ll receive a guaranteed amount per hour (around $150) for the first three to four months. After this, you’ll receive the hourly rate or a percentage of the billings, whichever is greater. 

GPs can increase their earnings by taking on locum work or working in rural or remote areas. Locum GPs in Australia are earning between $2000 - $3000 a day.

Locum doctors are earning up to $4000/day. How does your salary compare? Find out in our free 2024 Australian Doctor Job Market.
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Medrecruit Editorial Team
19 December 2022Article by Medrecruit Editorial TeamMedrecruit Editor