GP registrar survey shows success of College-led training

Royal Australian College of GPs

In the first year since the Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) resumed responsibility for most GP training, its GPs in training report improved experience of training, teaching, supervision and exams, according to the most recent Medical Training Survey (MTS).

This year, 2,775 RACGP registrars completed the survey, in rates consistent with population distribution, making it the largest and among the most representative samples to date. It is the first MTS since the RACGP and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine took over management of the Australian General Practice Training program on 1 February 2023.

The survey showed that of GP registrars undertaking training with the RACGP:

  • 84% would recommend their current training position to others (up 4% on 2022 MTS, versus 80% of all specialist trainees in 2023)
  • 84% would recommend their workplace as a place to train (up 4%, versus 79% of all trainees)
  • 88% rated the quality of their clinical supervision as excellent or good (up 2%, versus 87% of all trainees)
  • 87% rated the quality of their training to raise patient safety concerns as excellent or good (up 5%, versus 83% of all trainees)
  • 85% rated the quality of their teaching sessions as excellent or good (no change, versus 83% of all trainees)
  • 85% agreed their exams ran smoothly on the day (up 3%, versus 84% of all trainees)
  • 83% agreed their exams were conducted fairly (up 3%, versus 76% of all trainees)
  • 82% rated their orientation as excellent or good (up 3%, versus 75% of all trainees)
  • 83% said they received training on how to provide culturally safe care (up 2%, versus 81% of all trainees)
  • 79% agreed the College supports flexible training arrangements (up 3%, versus 65% of all trainees)
  • 86% said they know who to contact at the College about their training program (up 15%, versus 76% of all trainees).

RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins welcomed the results and congratulated medical educators and the College employees who support them.

“These results show the dedication and expertise of the hundreds of medical educators and support staff who joined the RACGP this year to provide training for the next generation of GPs,” she said.

“I cannot overstate the scale of the change. Our new medical educators and the employees who support them almost tripled the headcount of the College. Eighteen separate IT platforms were replaced with two, and the systems of the eight Regional Training Organisations became a single learning management system and training management system. Teams quickly assembled to make the change as seamless as possible, helped by an emphasis on providing local consistency to GPs in training and their medical educators and supervisors.

“It’s rare for so much change to happen so fast in education, and incredibly rare for it be without major disruption, but in fact with improvements to most metrics. There were definitely challenges along the way, but support teams quickly took action to resolve them, supervisors continued to support their trainees, and quick and appropriate communication kept people up to date.

“It is the depth of knowledge our supervisors, medical educators, and operational employees and their continued commitment to improve the RACGP’s GP training program that makes it so strong. The positive experience of GPs in training are clearly reflected in this survey.

“That a significantly higher percentage of our registrars know who to contact when they need help than at the same time last year speaks for itself.

“It’s an enormous credit to everyone who was involved in the transition of training back to the RACGP. But it’s also the standard we’ve set for ourselves, and far from a sign we can be satisfied. It’s a benchmark we should improve on.”

The College flagged two areas of concern. While 88% of GPs in training said bullying, harassment and discrimination is not tolerated at their workplace, and 91% said racism is not tolerated at their workplace, around 14% had experienced bullying, harassment, discrimination, or racism, and 15% had witnessed it, versus 22% and 30% of all medical specialist trainees.

Around half of this was perpetrated by patients, their families, or their carers, but a significant amount was by senior staff or colleagues.

“This is completely unacceptable,” Dr Higgins said.

“Health can be stressful. Practices and hospitals can be stressful. People let their patience run short and take it out on their doctor, or a colleague. If we want to, we could rationalise this or try to justify it in the context. But that’s a mistake.

“We learn faster and we work better when we feel safe and supported. Discrimination and racism rob trainees of opportunities to be the best GP they can be. Bullying and harassment make a workplace tense and lead to burnout, absences, or the loss of a trainee and future opportunities to bring on GPs. No one benefits.

“We are all responsible for creating a safe and supportive workplace. There are reporting systems in place for issues in training, but we should all do what we can to stop problems before that step becomes necessary.”

About us:

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is the peak representative organisation for general practice, the backbone of Australia’s health system. We set the standards for general practice, facilitate lifelong learning for GPs, connect the general practice community, and advocate for better health and wellbeing for all Australians.

/Public Release.