May 2009


Choosing general practice as a career

The influences of education and training

Volume 38, No.5, May 2009 Pages 341-344

Jeremy Bunker

Narelle Shadbolt


In Australia, most medical students graduate without a firm career choice, with this decision being made during their early postgraduate years. Strategies addressing the current lack of meaningful exposure to general practice during these formative prevocational years are likely to be the most effective in increasing the proportion and number of entrants to general practice.


This review summarises the influences of medical student selection criteria, curriculum, geographical location, timing and duration of general practice exposure and experience, prevocational experience, and vocational training, on an eventual choice of general practice as a career.


These are important influences on the complex process of career choice. Much research has focused on isolated interventions at one point along the pipeline. Varied and conflicting conclusions emerge from individual studies. In complex systems it is hard to understand the influence of an isolated intervention without looking at the system as a whole.

This review draws from the conventional literature. It was performed as part of a larger study that also used stakeholder interviews, grey literature (reports, position papers, planning documents and nonpeer reviewed findings) and opinion summaries, and reviews of the marketing and consumer choice literature, to report on the determinants of career choice.

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