Like most professions, medical practitioners don't stop learning or cease to expand the scope of their career after they have completed their training.
Continuing education is now an important part of every GP's professional life.
With the capacity to accommodate a medical career which involves part-time work in a practice, some of the avenues GPs pursue are research and teaching.
There is also the opportunity to widen your experience working overseas.
Continuing professional development
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
Fellows of the RACGP must undertake Quality Improvement and Continuing Professional Development (QI&CPD).
The college’s program is run over a three-year period during which the minimum requirements of the program must be achieved. All program participants will receive a CD-ROM containing the QI&CPD Program Handbook: an online version of the handbook will also be available on the college website.
Members of the RACGP receive free access to the QI&CPD program. For non-members, there is an annual fee of $399.
The gplearning website is an interactive GP education platform. The RACGP also produces the check Program, a QI&CPD learning program. It is created monthly by expert clinicians and can be accessed online via gplearning.
Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine
ACRRM members with vocational recognition/registration are required to obtain a minimum of 100 points over a three-year cycle (triennium) of the professional development program. Compliance will be reported to Medicare Australia for the purpose of Medicare Benefits.
The ACRRM Professional Development Program gives fellows and other members of the college reliable access to a program geared to meet the diverse needs of practitioners working in rural and remote Australian communities.
Research is central to progress in medical science and practice. Opportunities lie not only in scientific endeavour but also in examining socio-economic, behavioural and other influences on people’s health, healthcare outcomes, and other health-related matters. By providing GPs with grants, scholarships and awards, the RACGP Research Foundation helps to supports the role research plays in creating the evidence base on which standards for the profession are based.
The National Health and Medical Research Council is Australia’s peak body for supporting health and medical research for developing health advice for the Australian community, health professionals and governments and for providing advice on ethical behaviour in healthcare and in the conduct of health and medical research. They operate a number of funding programs for a range of research needs, including ‘people support’ covering scholarships, research fellowships and career development awards.
The Australian Association for Academic Primary Care is a representative body for people undertaking teaching and research in general practice. All staff involved in the general practice environment are invited to become members.
JASON is a postgraduate scholarship search engine. Scholarships in the database apply to Australian students wishing to study at home or abroad, and to international students wishing to study in Australia.
The most accessible teaching role for a GP is working with GP registrars in the practice environment, as part of a regional training provider (RTP) team. RTPs provide training for GP supervisors which includes being a teacher, collaborative learner, coach and role model as well as the professional and ethical aspects of the role.
A GP supervisor’s role is complex and challenging. General practice is a difficult discipline to teach and learn, stretching from practical skills to counselling skills. This is overlaid by a multi-dimensional relationship; the prolonged attachments GP registrars have with GP supervisors in a close apprenticeship relationship, the shared responsibility with the registrar for patient care and safety, and often an employer-employee relationship.
Some GPs combine practising with being a medical educator for an RTP, teaching and advising GP registrars, and may also be involved in program management and policy work.
There is also the option to explore teaching medical students in the university environment. While within the practice, there is the opportunity to be part of programs that offer medical students and prevocational doctors a taste of general practice.
The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP) recognises general practice experience in Australia as being comparable to that in New Zealand for the purpose of training. This assists with registration, and if you are an Australian citizen you can live and work in New Zealand without a work permit.
Fellowship of the RACGP (FRACGP) is recognised in Ireland, Hong Kong and Malaysia. However, some colleges require additional assessment prior to working in those countries. The RACGP is undertaking negotiations with several overseas colleges for recognition of the FRACGP.
Australian medical recruiters often have overseas positions among their services, and can provide advice on the requirements in the locations where they offer opportunities.
Médecins Sans Frontières, Red Cross and many other organisations need doctors to assist with emergency and ongoing work in communities in need around the world. Australian medical qualifications may be all that is required, however, length and type of experience required depend on the position.
International medical assistance organisations
These companies provide services to travellers and expatriates. Employment opportunities include working on teams recovering and repatriating patients to a medical facility or their home country, practising in clinics that serve expatriate communities and medical leadership positions. Full medical registration in your home country is usually required. Levels of experience required depend on the position.