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GP registrars given a voice on training experiences in 2024 survey

ACER news 6 minute read

Australian GPs-in-training have an opportunity to share their experiences and challenges with policymakers through an annual online survey. It opens next week. 

The General Practice National Registrar Survey (GP NRS) has the potential to be a changemaker for future GP registrars. 

The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) conducts the survey for the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care to help it monitor and assure the quality of training programs.

The results provide an overview of Australia’s emerging workforce of GPs, including their training experiences and career intentions, and can support policy development for GP training.

For example, in 2021, 42% of respondents felt they should be employed by a 'single employer’. The Australian Government subsequently committed to expanding trials of the single employer model across rural and remote regions. 

The expansion is likely to be welcomed by registrars, given that the percentage who preferred working for a single employer throughout their training had risen to 47% in 2023. 

Findings from the 2023 survey 

The 2023 survey has provided important feedback on the transition to a new college-led training model.

Training to become a specialist GP is provided by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) or the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM). 

Survey responses indicated the transition to college-led training was relatively smooth. Most registrars were satisfied with their GP College’s quality of overall training and education experience (84%) and this increased to 92% when they were asked about their overall training and education experience within their training facility.

As in previous years, almost all registrars surveyed were satisfied with the clinical work undertaken (96%) and the level of workplace responsibility experienced (96%). 

Satisfaction with health and wellbeing support from supervisors rose from 89% in the 2022 survey to 93% in 2023. Additionally, almost all (96%) surveyed First Nations registrars were satisfied with the support they received through the Indigenous General Practice Trainees Network (IGPTN). 

Who took part 

Women made up 64% of the registrars who responded to the 2023 survey, international medical graduates made up 35% of respondents.  

Just under half of all registrars who responded were born in Australia, with 76 other birth countries reported. 

Employment conditions 

When asked about the training undertaken in Semester 1, 2023, two thirds of the registrars indicated they were working full time. As with previous years, a much higher proportion of men (79%) than women (59%) worked full time. Of those working part time, 80% reported that they had children or dependants.  

Around half of the registrars who commented on employment conditions reported a need for maternity or parental leave, paid leave to attend training workshops and exam-related leave. 

Support for rural and remote medicine  

Surveys in 2022 and 2023 looked at the dedicated training pathways to attract, retain and support rural generalist doctors to provide primary care, emergency medicine and other non-GP specialist services. 

Registrars training as rural generalists were asked when they had decided to choose this path, with 18% saying at the start of medical school, 24% at the end, 14% after their internship, and 33% at the start of vocational training. 

Most (72%) rural generalist registrars indicated they would remain in a rural practice after completing their training, but 24% were unsure. 

The survey also recorded how many registrars had engaged with their state or territory’s rural program co-ordination units in following their path to rural medicine. 

Of those who had received advice or assistance from a unit, 85% were satisfied with the support – an increase of 6 percentage points from 2022. 

Taking part in 2024

The 2024 survey is open from 1 July to 9 August 2024. All eligible registrars will receive a unique link inviting them to participate.  This year, eligibility has been expanded to include all Commonwealth-funded GP training pathways – the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) Program, the Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) and the Rural Generalist Training Scheme (RGTS).

The GP NRS was previously known as the Australian General Practice Training National Registrar Survey. ACER has conducted the survey every year since 2013. 


Learn more  

Read the AGPT Program National Report on the 2023 National Registrar Survey by Dr Rebecca Taylor, Leyna Clarke and Dr Michelle Hsien 

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