Myths vs. Reality of General Practice

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There are more misconceptions surrounding general practice than any other medical speciality. Most of these misconceptions allude to the fact that general practice is a non-specialised field of medicine and hence it is boring, non-challenging and non-paying. If you are hesitant to become a general practitioner because of the ‘boring’ reputation that it has earned, you should know that none of these are true. In this article we aim to bust the myths surrounding general practice and take a look at the real face of this generalist specialty.  

Myth:

GPs practicing boring medicine. All they do is treat coughs, colds and the flu and check your blood pressure

Reality:

GPs are the only medical professionals who practice the full scope of medicine and coughs, colds, the flu and blood pressure checkups are just a part of it.  In fact, a day in the life of a GP is as diverse as it gets. Every patient who walks through your door is likely to bring in a new challenge. During the course of one day, you could find yourself having treated patients of all ages for general aches and pains, fever, dressing of wounds, cut, bruises and minor surgical procedures such as removal of cysts or moles and of course, coughs and colds. As a GP, you can even choose to sub-specialise or take on consultancies at various locations so there’s no question of ever getting bored.

Weighing a new born baby in Morogoro Hospital, Tanzania Myth 2:

As a GP you will never get a chance to practise challenging, complex medicine

Reality:

General practitioners practice challenging, complex medicine every day. GPs are usually the first medical professional that many patients go to, to get their symptoms diagnosed, no matter which part of the body has been affected. As a GP, you see all kinds of unusual and rare presentations and you are responsible for making decisions that will make the difference in the patient’s health outcome. This means you have to know not just about the ears, heart or liver but you have to be more broadly skilled.     

Myth:

GPs don’t make much money.

Reality:

GPs in Australia earn pretty well, with a full time GP earning an average annual income of about $200,000. That’s higher than most non-medical processionals including architects, accountants, veterinarians and lawyers. While GPs do earn less than some other medical specialties, the benefits of more part time options, a more flexible life-style and social working hours more than make up for the lower earning potential.  

Myth:

General Practice cannot be considered a medical specialty.

Reality:

General Practice has been recognised as a specific discipline of medicine in 1978 and in 1989 it gained official classification as a medical specialty. To practice as a GP in Australia, you need to do an additional 3 to 4 years of training as a GP registrar, culminating in the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) or the Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

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