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General medical practitioner

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Summary of occupation

General practitioners diagnose and treat people’s illnesses and injuries. They tend to see patients on a one-to-one, non-emergency basis regarding temporary or chronic illness, general health check-ups and preventative health tests. They are usually the first point of call regarding non-emergency illness or injury, and often refer patients on to specialists once they have made their diagnosis.

ANZSCO description: Diagnoses, treats and prevents human physical and mental disorders and injuries. Registration or licensing is required.
Alternative names: Doctor, General Practitioner, GP
Specialisations: Medical Officer (Navy)
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A general practitioner needs:

  • an interest in the well-being of others
  • good communication and people skills
  • to work well under pressure, and in emergency situations
  • to be reliable and responsible
  • stamina to work long hours.
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Working conditions

General practitioners work in health clinics and practices in both the government and private sectors. They normally work with a small group of practitioners in a general practice, but do most of their work individually in private rooms with limited medical equipment. They may also work in a large community health centres with other health professionals and see patients in group settings. General practitioners are required all over the State. In small rural communities, they may be required to conduct house visits if clinic facilitates are limited or unavailable, or if their patients live in isolated locations. All general practitioners, regardless of their location or workplace, come in contact with infectious diseases and bodily fluids. They need to wear protective gear such as gloves. They may also have to work long or irregular hours.

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Salary details

On average, generalist medical practitioners can expect to earn around $2 619 per week ($136 167 per year), depending on the organisation they work for and their level of experience. As a general medical practitioner develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

General practitioners use instruments such as stethoscopes, thermometers, sphygmomanometers (blood pressure monitors) and reflex hammer. They also administer medicines, such as vaccinations. They regularly use computers to maintain client records and consult pharmaceutical manuals.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a general medical practitioner you must first become a qualified medical doctor and then specialise in general practice.

Postgraduate courses in medicine are offered by the University of Notre Dame and the University of Western Australia. These degrees usually take four years to complete. Entry requirements include completion of a bachelor degree in any discipline. You must also sit the Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admissions Test (GAMSAT) and attend an interview at your chosen institution. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

On completion of the postgraduate medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for one year (internship) to gain general registration as a medical doctor. To then specialise in general practice, doctors can apply to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and/or the Australian College of Rural Remote Medicine (ACRRM) to undertake further training and ultimately receive fellowship.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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