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A survey of strategies for increasing the number of medical learners in all Tasmanian general practices

Jan Radford


Introduction: Australia has a worsening workforce shortage of general practitioners and of doctors entering training in this specialty. This study aimed to explore the current capacity and enablers and barriers to increasing clinical placements for medical learners in the rural Australian state of Tasmania. 

Methods: A cross-sectional survey of all 559 general practitioners (GPs) and 151 practice managers in Tasmania in 2010 was conducted using online and postal delivery. Survey data were analysed quantitatively.

Results: The response rate was 67% (376) for GPs and 40% (61) for practice managers. GP teaching rates within the previous 2 years were 72% for medical students, 19% for junior doctors, 36% for registrars and 23% for international medical graduates (IMGs). GPs agreed that they taught because of previous positive experiences (91%), enjoyment (85%), wanting to inspire learners to work in general practice (84%), because they considered it their professional duty (83%) and because they thought it kept them clinically up-to-date (80%). Only 15% taught because of remuneration. The reasons that GPs had not taught were lack of opportunity (45%), concern about negative impact on patient care (31%) and income (27%) and lack of self-confidence to teach (24%). Practice managers agreed enablers for teaching would be more GPs to teach (77%), better remuneration (71%), more room to house learners (64%), less “red-tape” to take on learners (62%) and more support from learners’ organisations (64%). Sixty-one percent of GPs expressed interest in upskilling as a teacher/clinical supervisor.


 Conclusions: Tasmanian general practitioners and their practice organisations already deliver a lot of clinical teaching and supervision to medical learners. This is enjoyed by GPs, but increased funding to cover the cost of supervising learners, the provision of GP teacher/supervisor training and more efficient administrative support of GPs and their practices could lead to an increase in capacity to provide more clinical placement weeks than is currently the case.


general practice; clinical supervision; practice manager; undergraduate medical education; workplace-based learning; international medical graduate

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