What to expect when you’re accepting
(your RACGP AGPT offer)

You’ve secured a place on RACGPs AGPT training program! Congratulations! We are very much looking forward to welcoming you as a GP colleague. While you will be supported throughout your training by your supervisors and medical educators, here are a few tips to prepare yourself for the transition from the hospital to general practice.

Firstly, it is important that you have completed your required hospital time and mandatory terms before you begin a general practice placement. The AGPT RACGP training program is three years full-time, divided up into one hospital year, followed by four six-month terms. The hospital year can be completed after you have been accepted onto the AGPT program or, if you have suitable previous experience, you can apply for up to one year of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) with up to six-months in a single specialty, to reduce your training time. Your regional training organisation (RTO) will be able to give you more information about the process of applying for RPL and assessing if it is suitable for your training.

Prior to commencing your first GP term, you need to have completed a minimum of 52 weeks in an Australian or NZ hospital post-internship or 104 weeks in total. For most people this means a minimum of 24 months in hospital: 12 months as an intern or with provisional registration, and 12 months as an RMO or post general registration.

Prior to commencing your first GP term, you need to have completed a minimum of 52 weeks in an Australian or NZ hospital post-internship or 104 weeks in total. For most people this means a minimum of 24 months in hospital: 12 months as an intern or with provisional registration, and 12 months as an RMO or post general registration.

There are also mandatory terms which, ideally, you have completed in an Australian or New Zealand hospital within the previous five years*. Before applying for your first GP term, you should have a completed a minimum of:

  • General medicine rotation (10 weeks FTE)
  • General surgery rotation (10 weeks FTE)
  • Emergency medicine rotation (10 weeks FTE)
  • Paediatrics requirement**

* If you have not completed the above terms in the last five years, you should contact your RTO, there may be other options for you.

**the paediatrics requirement can be met by a 10-week FTE rotation in paediatrics, but there are other options which may differ depending on your RTO.

Once you have satisfied the requirements for your hospital terms, it’s time to start thinking about where you might like to practice. It is worth researching the areas within your training region to assess suitable options. Bear in mind your region’s training location obligations and the ‘two practice rule’ – which means you will need to change practice at least once during your training. Have a think about where you might want to live and put some research into things that are important to you, such as access to leisure activities and social events, arts and culture, proximity to your partner’s place of work and local schools or day-care if you have children. Consider accommodation options for you and your family, including affordability, availability and commute times. 

When you have narrowed down suitable locations for you, it is time to start thinking about practices. Your RTO will have a list of practices in the location which have positions open to registrars. While it is not helpful to have your heart set on one or two practices as, at this early stage, you won’t know availability and competition for places, you should start thinking about the sort of practice you may like to work in. All practices with GP registrar posts will have supervisors who have been trained to help you in your day-to-day practice and provide you with education. Other aspects you may like to consider include the practice’s billing policy, the appointments lengths, corporate or private ownership, the number of GPs practicing there, patient demographic, quality of nursing support, access to allied health and non-GP specialists and similarities between your special interests and the practices. As clinicians, we all have our priorities and differing ways we like to work, so it is worth reflecting on what is important to you as to have a head start on what you are looking for in a practice when the applications open.

You may also like to start thinking about what your overall training pathway will look like. The terms following the hospital year are each six months FTE.  Three of those terms, GPT1, GPT2, GPT3 are all in a GP practice or an Aboriginal Medical Service (GPT2/GPT3 only). The fourth term is an extended skills term in which you will choose an area of interest, to expand your skills further, this can be in a hospital or community setting and is most commonly completed after your GPT3 term but can be completed at any stage of your GP training, following your hospital year. Some examples include emergency medicine, paediatrics, anaesthetics, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medicine, medical education or an academic term. You will have an opportunity to talk with someone in your RTO about your options for extended skills. If you have an interest in rural and remote medicine, you may also want to think about whether dual fellowship with FARGP (fellowship in Advanced Rural General Practice) might be an option for you. It involves an additional 12 months of advanced rural skills training and provides the opportunity to learn about the specific health needs of rural and remote communities.

When the time comes to apply for your first general practice position as a GPT1 your RTO will have an application process which will involve releasing the available positions and opening applications. You will need an up-to-date CV and cover letter. Your cover letter should be addressed to that specific practice, outline your background, your medical skills and interests, your career goals and whether you are looking for a full-time or part-time position and your particular interest in the practice you are applying for – it may be that you had a placement there as a medical student, that you have community connections, or the supervisors’ interests align with your own. It is also a good place to talk about your hobbies and interests outside of medicine to help you stand out as a potential employee. Some practices will offer interviews, which may be in person or via phone or zoom and others will make offers based on the written application alone. It is highly recommended that you apply for multiple practices, to give yourself the best chance of securing a position.

During your training you will have in-practice supervision as well as education provided by the medical education team within your RTO. Always make sure you ask questions if you are unsure, there are lots of people on hand to help from the practice manager, the reception team, the nursing staff, the other GPs and of course your assigned supervisor.

If you have any questions about your training, you can discuss with medical educators and training advisors within your RTO, with your registrar liaison officer or of course GPRA. We are all here to help and support you through your training, so good luck, and welcome to your career in general practice.

By Dr Susan Roberts

Dr Roberts is final term GP registrar on the rural pathway in Murwillumbah, Northern NSW, and an FGP Advisor providing ongoing support and guidance to all doctors that are interested in a career in general practice.