Saturday, March 04, 2023

James Cox

GP associations have called for urgent action on the funding and development of undergraduate General Practice placements to help address the ongoing GP workforce crisis.

A report from the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) and Association of University Departments of General Practice in Ireland (AUDGPI) is the first containing a unified view from the entire academic GP community.

The joint call for action seeks a more formal and structured collaboration between the ICGP Specialist Training Programme and the Medical Schools Departments of General Practice.

The report entitled ‘Medical Student to General Practitioner- an Urgent Call to Action’ was published on Saturday at the 2023 AUDGPI ICGP Joint Annual Scientific Meeting in the University of Galway.

Against the background of a growing GP workforce crisis, this report highlights the low visibility of General Practice at undergraduate level in the country’s medical schools, makes recommendations to promote General Practice as a positive career choice, and proposes a clinical academic training pathway in General Practice.

The report’s recommendations are as follows:

  • Promote General Practice as a positive career choice amongst medical students by enhancing opportunities for shared teaching, learning, assessment, role modelling, and contribution to the GP and patient communities, across the spectrum from medical student to GP intern, GP trainee and GP registrar.
  • Provide a streamlined and defined academic career training pathway for GP, and incorporate opportunities for GP trainees, registrars, and recent graduates to gain more exposure to academic GP- inclusive of education and research domains.
  • Build synergies and efficiencies based on closer working arrangements and mutual areas of interest, in education and research, between postgraduate GP Programme and Scheme Directing staff, faculty in the Medical Schools Departments of General Practice, GP Trainers and GPs who take medical students.
  • Promote the retention of trained GPs: by providing enhanced career opportunities for GPs, this will encourage GPs to stay in practice as they can also engage in a range of other professional activities.
  • Enable the effective implementation of health policy in Ireland: by supporting Sláintecare population health planning, Regional Health Authority alignment and linkages between ICGP, medical schools and healthcare structures regionally and locally.

Mr Fintan Foy, chief executive of the ICGP, said: “The ICGP knows that not enough graduates of Irish medical schools select general practice as a career, which leaves our long-term workforce planning in a highly vulnerable position. This joint report with the AUDGPI sets out 14 recommendations to change that.”

Dr Maureen Kelly, Lead Suthor and Associate Professor, School of Medicine, University of Galway, said: “We need to develop and implement a national funding model that supports the hosting and delivery of undergraduate general practice placements for medical students in all medical schools. The report is a forward-thinking and ambitious approach to GP education. It emphasises the importance of viewing GP education as a continuum.“

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