This review takes a narrative synthesis approach – a systematic
approach to interpreting complex evidence – to a broad literature
review of the complex issue of medical career decision making.
Addressing the Australian general practice workforce crisis
requires an understanding of career choice motivators. The
biggest recruitment losses are those not ever considering general
practice as a career. Although flexibility and work-life balance are
important motivators, more important is the perceived intellectual
challenge of the career. Most career decisions are made in the
early postgraduate years when doctors have little general practice
exposure and many form incorrect perceptions. The morale and self
esteem of the general practice profession has an important impact
on choice. Every general practice encounter is an opportunity to
showcase the profession as an intellectually stimulating, challenging
and interesting career choice.
The general practice workforce is in crisis in Australia. Current estimates indicate a shortfall of 400–500 new general practitioners every year to balance an aging workforce, a diminishing generalist medical workforce, and increasing losses from retirement and disenchantment. The number of medical student places has increased, but there is an urgent need to increase the percentage of doctors choosing general practice. Understanding the motivators of career choice may help the profession market itself to attract those who will enjoy and sustain a general practice career.
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