Starting GP training?

Here is some practical advice when beginning general practice training.

Get organised in your patient consultations

Start consultations with open-ended questions, getting the full list of the patient’s concerns. Prioritise their concerns and book a follow-up appointment if needed. Aim to do all the work for each consult (investigations, prescriptions, referrals and notes) during the consultation to avoid significant after-hours admin. Be on time by allocating periods (15 minutes) without any booked patients, throughout your clinical session.

Be respectful of teaching time

Make sure in-practice teaching is a protected time and you come suitability prepared. Schedule dedicated teaching at the start of a clinical session to ensure that this time is not compromised by consultations running over time. Be the driving force “booking in” the teaching time — don’t leave it up to your supervisor. Discuss what key areas or skills you would like to learn with your supervisor and colleagues. This will help optimise your teaching time. Your colleagues can let you know when a patient of interest come into the clinic. Keep “corridor consults” with your supervisor succinct.

Open, honest and early communication

This is the key to solving most of the issues faced by GP registrars! Don’t delay if you have questions or concerns about any aspect of your training or employment. It is better to have a conversation with your supervisor as early as possible when issues arise. However, if you do need to escalate matters, there are a range of supports, particularly your RLO and GPRA, who can assist.

Optimise your time spent in the clinic seeing patients

During consults, have a method for keeping track of clinical questions that arise. Discuss these questions with your supervisor or look up these questions in your personal study time.

Design a learning plan

Your plan should state your learning needs and goals, and the activities you plan to do in order to achieve those goals. This planning facilitates your self-directed learning, separate to the teaching you receive through your college and during GP training. Your college can provide templates and tools to document learning plans. Ask your medical educator or college training advisor to provide guidance in formulating your plan. Follow any mandatory college requirements for your learning plan.

Regularly check your billings

Practice software can generate billing lists for your day’s work and live tallies. You are legally entitled to this information. Your billings impact on your remuneration through the percentage calculations. Under the Health Insurance Act 1973 you are legally responsible for all services billed to Medicare under your provider number or in your name. You hold primary responsibility for any incorrect claims.

Sort out annual leave ASAP

Your training practice cannot unreasonably refuse your leave requests, but they can refuse it if there are reasonable grounds (for example, there are other GPs taking leave at your desired time). If your practice closes over a holiday period (for example, Easter or Christmas), it is perfectly legal for you to be required to take annual leave over such shut-down periods. Details of annual leave agreed to should be documented, preferably in your employment agreement.

Be friendly

Get to know the people in your workplace. Ask them about their background, training and their interests inside and outside of work. If possible, join in any social activities. A little bit of investment can go a long way in developing good working relationships with your colleagues and supervisor.

Look after yourself

Leave work at work! Debrief with other registrars or a trusted friend or family member. Regularly take time out from work and study. If you are not enjoying work, talk to someone at your college. Don’t forget that your RLO and GPRA can help you. Make sure you have your own GP and book in for an annual check-up.