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A guide to using the curriculum and syllabus

The curriculum and syllabus reflects the expectations, values and principles required of an Australian general practitioner (GP). It provides detailed educational outcomes, content and processes to support medical educators, supervisors and learners. It is also a resource for other learning needs, such as for GPs returning to work, in cases of remediation and for those who wish to self-direct their ongoing CPD by providing suggested activities and resources. It may also be used by developers of CPD or general practice educational activities.

The curriculum and syllabus is composed of 42 units: seven core units and 35 contextual units. The seven core units include the five domains of general practice, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health unit, and rural health unit. The contextual units cover contextual areas such as dermatology, travel medicine, cardiovascular health, etc, and relate to clinical presentations and patient populations that GPs see.


The seven core units represent the essential knowledge, skills and attitudes expected of all Australian GPs. They include the five domains of general practice together with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and rural health units.
  1. Communication and the patient–doctor relationship
  2. Applied professional knowledge and skills
  3. Population health and the context of general practice
  4. Professional and ethical role
  5. Organisational and legal dimensions
  6. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  7. Rural health


The 35 contextual units cover the patient populations, clinical presentations and areas of practice that make up Australian general practice. The contextual units detail how the core competencies are applied in everyday practice.
  1. Abuse and violence
  2. Addiction medicine
  3. Cardiovascular health
  4. Child and youth health
  5. Dermatological presentations
  6. Disability care 
  7. Disaster health 
  8. Doctors’ health
  9. Ear, nose, throat and oral health
  10. Education in general practice
  11. Emergency medicine 
  12. Endocrine and metabolic health
  13. Eye presentations
  14. Gastrointestinal health
  15. Haematological presentations
  16. Infectious diseases
  17. Integrative medicine
  18. Justice system health
  1. Kidney and urinary health
  2. Men's health
  3. Mental health
  4. Migrant, refugee and asylum seeker health 
  5. Military and veteran health
  6. Musculoskeletal presentations
  7. Neurological presentations 
  8. Occupational and environmental medicine
  9. Older persons' health 
  10. Pain management
  11. Palliative care
  12. Pregnancy and reproductive health
  13. Research in general practice 
  14. Respiratory health
  15. Sexual health and gender diversity
  16. Travel medicine
  17. Women's health

The competencies and learning outcomes for GPs are also detailed within the curriculum and syllabus. The seven core units are the basis of the core competency framework (Figure 1). The core competency framework includes 15 core competencies, 13 of which are based on the 13 core skills of the 2016 curriculum, and two are new. There are 92 core competency outcomes arising from the 15 core competencies. The core competency framework is represented across the 35 contextual units.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Competencies of the curriculum and syllabus.


Each of the 42 units has seven sections that are the same across all units. There is a link to instructions at the beginning of each section which can be expanded to provide further information about the section. The instructions provided are the same for all units and are detailed below.

1. Rationale This section provides a summary of the area of practice for this unit and highlights the importance of this topic to general practice and the role of the GP.
2. Competencies and learning outcomes This section lists the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are expected of a GP.

Core units: Each core unit has a set of core competencies that are required of a GP across all clinical consultations, interactions and contexts. These core competencies are further detailed as measurable core competency outcomes.

Contextual units: Each contextual unit has a set of measurable learning outcomes, which align to the core competency outcomes of the seven core units.
3. Words of wisdom Practical tips from experienced GPs covering a variety of competencies.
4. Case consultation example A common case demonstrating the application of the competency framework to clinical practice. It contains questions ordered according to the RACGP clinical competency exam (CCE) assessment areas to prompt consideration about different aspects of the clinical case.
5. Learning strategies
Strategies to assist in building skills and knowledge, evaluation of learning and application of knowledge to clinical practice. These strategies cover all five domains and are organised as learning strategies to be done by learners on their own, with a supervisor, in a small group or with a family member or friend.
6. Guiding topics and content areas Examples of topic areas for each unit that can be used to guide learning.
7. Learning resources A starting list of helpful resources for each unit covering all the five domains and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and rural health.

The curriculum and syllabus are for use by learners at any stage of their lifelong learning journey. It has been designed to enable everyone to access it and use it according to their needs.

If you are a medical student or hospital trainee, you might look at the lists of contextual units to gain an appreciation of the breadth of areas in which GPs practice. You might identify a few units which you are not experienced in, read the rationale, the competencies and learning outcomes and the guiding topics and content areas to better understand the content and the role of a GP in that particular contextual area. If you are thinking of applying for general practice training, you could also read the core units and gain an understanding of the domains applied in practice.

If you are just starting in general practice, head to the words of wisdom section. These are tips from experienced GPs which you are not likely to find in a journal article or textbook. They are practical tips to help you in your clinical practice. Make sure you focus on the seven core units – these are the domains of general practice, as well as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and rural health units. The competencies in these units make up the core competency framework of a Fellowed GP. Understanding these core units will help you understand the breadth of competencies which you need as a GP; it isn’t just about knowledge! You may also want to look at the learning resources and read one or two resources from different contextual units. This will help you understand the major resources appropriate to that contextual unit; for example, the hypertension guidelines.

If you are a few weeks into your general practice clinical experience, have a look at the case consultation example. This will help you understand how the core competencies and domains of a GP, as well as the 10 assessment areas used in the RACGP clinical exams, are applied to various case scenarios. There are questions to work through with a colleague, study partner or supervisor to help you better understand the breadth of skills needed of a GP, as described in the core competency framework. Start looking at the learning strategies and work through these. Choose a contextual area you see frequently in your clinical practice. Practise evaluating your learning using the questions in italics. Make sure your learning leads to changes in your clinical practice, otherwise it is just learning for learning’s sake!

If you are a few months into your general practice clinical experience, continue working through the case consultation examples and learning strategies, but now start including contextual units which you are seeing less frequently, or those that you don’t know much about. Learn from your supervisors or your peers. Use family or friends to help you practise developing skills in communication. Continue to evaluate and challenge your previously held knowledge and assumptions. Go back to the words of wisdom section. Can you relate to these tips now you’ve had some experience in clinical general practice?

If you are studying for exams, read or re-read the rationale and competencies and learning outcomes sections. What exactly is expected of a Fellowed GP? Why are these core and contextual units important? You might also work through the guiding topics and content areas to understand the topic areas that a GP needs to understand. The learning resources may also be helpful as a starting point for your learning. Working through these resources might help you then identify other resources relevant to your learning needs. 

If you are a Fellowed GP, pick a few contextual or core units in which you wish to further your learning. Work through the different sections, starting with the rationale, competencies and learning outcomes sections to give you an orientation to the breadth of the unit. Have a look at the case consultation example. Could you create another case consultation example to help demonstrate the competencies you just read? Review the guiding topics and content areas and the learning resources to help address your learning needs. 

If you are a supervisor, review a few units to understand the educational structure of the curriculum and syllabus, which remains the same throughout all units. You might note that the syllabus aims to support the role of the supervisor as a ‘meaning maker’ – helping with the application of knowledge rather than being a transmitter of knowledge.

Once you’ve assisted your GP in training to identify their learning needs, start by working through the relevant units with them. Perhaps start at the words of wisdom. You might like to offer additional tips based on your experience. You also might like to work through the clinical case together and identify additional ‘what if’ type questions. These cases have been designed to help stimulate discussion across all the competencies required of GPs. You might also like to work through the learning strategies, specifically the ones designed to be done with a supervisor.

If you are developing GP educational activities, then the rationale and guiding topics and content areas will help you in completing a needs analysis and in deciding on the content of the education that will be relevant to GPs. The competencies and learning outcomes will assist you in developing these for your activity; and if you are developing case studies for use in your activity, the case consultation example provides an example of how a case can be expanded to cover all the domains of general practice.

The above suggestions are just that, suggestions. You might have a different way of approaching the curriculum and syllabus. The more you practise using it, the more you can make it work for you to maximise your learning. The order in which you review the units should match your learning needs. It is recommended that you start with the core units as these competencies are reflected in all the contextual units. The contextual units are ordered alphabetically for ease of access, but you might choose to focus on units you are seeing commonly in clinical practice, or those in which you have less experience.

The seven core units are the basis of the core competency framework. There are 15 core competencies and 92 core competency outcomes that arise from these core competencies. Together they make up the core competency framework. The core competency framework is represented across the 35 contextual units.

Domain 1. Communication and the patient–doctor relationship
Core competencies Core competency outcomes
  The GP is able to: 
  1. GPs communicate effectively and appropriately to provide quality care
  1. communicate with patients in a clear, respectful, empathic and appropriate manner
  2. communicate effectively in challenging situations
  3. use a clear and considerate approach when communicating with family, carers and others involved in the care of the patient
  4. communicate effectively and respectfully to address complaints and concerns
  5. communicate effectively and safely via electronic media
  6. use appropriate resources to communicate effectively where there is disability, impairment or language barriers

Rural health
  1. communicate effectively with other health professionals using available infrastructure
  1. GPs use effective health education strategies to promote health and wellbeing
  1. consider the patient’s level of health literacy, acknowledging that these factors can influence a patient’s experience of illness and health behaviours
  2. draw on a range of interview and counselling approaches to support patients to optimise health behaviours
  3. use planned and opportunistic approaches to provide screening, preventive care and health-promotion activities
  1. GPs communicate in a way that is culturally safe and respectful
  1. communicate in a way that is respectful and responsive to the sociocultural context and beliefs of the patient
  2. incorporate sociocultural elements to tailor health education to the local context

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  1. communicate with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients in a culturally safe and respectful manner
  1. GPs provide the primary contact for holistic and patient-centred care
  1. conduct a consultation that is aware and appropriate to the needs of the patient
  2. provide continuity of care through timely referral and follow up
  3. use a patient-centred approach to consultation, identifying and addressing the patient agenda to develop patient-centred management plans with the patient, their families or carers
  4. listen to and acknowledge the illness experience from the patient’s perspective
  5. understand different consultation models and identify the most appropriate for the situation

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  1. establish an effective and culturally safe therapeutic relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients
Rural health
  1. provide quality care in a rural and/or remote community
Domain 2. Applied knowledge and skills
Core competencies Core competency outcomes
  The GP is able to:
  1. GPs diagnose and manage the full range of health conditions across the lifespan
  1. take a comprehensive and clearly documented history in a timely, ordered and respectful manner
  2. perform a relevant and respectful physical examination
  3. identify and manage significantly ill patients appropriately
  4. formulate a list of relevant differential diagnoses
  5. receive consent and undertake relevant procedures
  6. offer relevant screening and investigations
  7. interpret investigation results within the context of the patient’s life/situation
  8. demonstrate clinical reasoning in the diagnosis and management of the patient
  9. prescribe and monitor medication safely and appropriately
  10. acknowledge clinical uncertainty and respond appropriately to it

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  1. undertake screening for early identification of health issues in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  2. manage health conditions in a timely manner, including responding effectively to the complex needs of patients with multi-morbidity
Rural health 
  1. develop knowledge and skills appropriate to the practice location
  1. GPs are innovative and informed by evidence
  1. identify and critically analyse quality evidence-based resources
  2. stay informed (and consider the use) of innovative approaches to chronic and complex health issues
  1. GPs collaborate and coordinate care
  1. ascertain the appropriate care model
  2. minimise fragmentation of care
  3. demonstrate leadership in emergency situations
  4. establish professional networks to maintain quality care

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  1. ensure care is relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ social, cultural, economic and other unique needs
  2. work in respectful partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare professionals
Rural health
  1. establish interprofessional networks to ensure quality local healthcare delivery
Domain 3. Population health and the context of general practice 
Core competencies Core competency outcomes
  The GP is able to: 
  1. GPs practise in a sustainable and accountable manner to support the environment, their community and the Australian healthcare system
  1. incorporate epidemiology into screening and management practices
  2. utilise shared resources in a sustainable manner (acknowledging that resources will always be finite)
  3. manage current and emerging public health risks effectively
  4. engage in public health and health promotion activities (to promote health in the local community)
  1. GPs advocate for the needs of their community
  1. describe the barriers to health equity in Australia (in the context of general practice)
  2. undertake the necessary action(s) to bring about positive change for patients (and community)
  3. explain how social and environmental determinants impact health (in their community)
  4. advocate to remove the health inequities that exist between various groups within the community

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  1. identify and promote ways to achieve health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  2. identify and promote social, environmental and cultural determinants of health in the local community
Rural health
  1. advocate for equitable access to appropriate services for rural and remote communities
Domain 4. Professional and ethical role
Core competencies Core competency outcomes
  The GP is able to: 
  1. GPs are ethical and professional
  1. adhere to relevant codes and standards of ethical and professional behaviour
  2. maintain duty of care
  3. identify and manage critical incidents and potential critical incidents including appropriate use of open disclosure practices
  4. display a positive and professional demeanour
  5. recognise and preserve therapeutic boundaries in an ethical and professional manner
  1. GPs are self-aware
  1. identify and act on areas for professional development
  2. undertake regular self-reflective practice and appraisal
  3. demonstrate a positive personal health and wellbeing outlook
  4. show awareness of the influence that their values and behaviour have on others
  5. implement an ongoing plan to overcome professional isolation

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  1. demonstrate awareness of their own cultural identity and the impact of this on clinical interactions and healthcare service delivery
  2. identify and actively seek to redress their own biases, judgements, assumptions and attitudes
  3. identify and promote strategies for responding to systemic racism in healthcare services
Rural health
  1. implement an ongoing plan to overcome professional geographical isolation
  2. be prepared, resourceful and adaptive to challenges that arise in geographic and professional isolation
  3. identify and acquire extended, or specific local knowledge to meet the healthcare needs of their community
  1. GPs mentor and teach
  1. share professional knowledge and experience with others
  2. utilise formal and opportunistic activities to engage in GP teaching and mentoring
  3. identify and ethically support colleagues and co-workers in difficulty

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health 
  1. engage with and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural education
  2. promote the professional development and support of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander health workforce
  1. GPs participate in evaluation and research
  1. apply critical analysis skills to medical and grey literature
  2. participate in regular evaluations of clinical care, including appropriate clinical governance, incident review and clinical audits

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  1. engage and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research
  2. promote the use of Indigenous research methods and support for the AIATSIS Code of Ethics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research
Domain 5. Organisational and legal dimensions  
Core competencies Core competency outcomes
  The GP is able to: 
  1. GPs use effective practice management processes and systems to continually improve quality and safety
  1. maintain and improve quality in clinical practice standards and infection control
  2. demonstrate effective leadership 
  3. manage time and priorities efficiently  

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  1. identify and implement effective models of primary healthcare delivery which meets the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  2. implement systems to support identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients
  3. facilitate timely and appropriate use of relevant Indigenous-specific health measures and MBS/PBS items
Rural health
  1. manage time and priorities efficiently when undertaking on-call roles 
  1. GPs work within statutory and regulatory requirements and guidelines
  1. manage patient privacy and confidentiality appropriately according to the relevant jurisdiction(s) 
  2. explain and obtain informed consent in a manner of shared decision-making
  3. describe and integrate medico-legal requirements, including record keeping 
  4. conduct business ethically and legally
  5. provide a practice environment that is culturally safe for themselves, their staff, patients and their families  
  6. ensure a work environment that is safe and supported and free of bullying, harassment and discrimination

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  1. identify and implement appropriate policies and initiatives regarding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health to optimise outcomes

For more detailed information, please refer to About the RACGP curriculum and syllabus.

This is a list of the acronyms used in the curriculum and syllabus. Where these are commonly used they will be abbreviated in the text; for example, MRI. Those that are less common are spelled out in the list below.

ACCHO Aboriginal community controlled health organisation
ACE-III Addenbrooke’s Cognitive Examination-III
ACR albumin-to-creatinine ratio
ACRRM Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine
ADF Australian Defence Force
ADHD attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
AHPRA/Ahpra Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
AIATSIS Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Studies
AIDA Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association
AKI acute kidney injury
AMA Australian Medical Association
AMS Aboriginal medical services
ANA antinuclear antibodies
Anti-dsDNA anti-double stranded DNA
ANZSPM Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine
AOD alcohol and other drugs
BBV blood-borne virus
BEACH Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health
BMI body mass index
BPH benign prostatic hyperplasia
CALD culturally and linguistically diverse
CATSINAM Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives
CFC chlorofluorocarbon
CHAP Comprehensive Health Assessment Program
CKD chronic kidney disease
CM complementary medicine
COCP combined oral contraceptive pill
COPD chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
CPTSD complex post-traumatic stress disorder
CRANAplus peak professional body for the remote and isolated health workforce
CRP C-reactive protein
CST cervical screening test
CT computed tomography
CVA cerebrovascular accident
CVD cardiovascular disease
DVA Department of Veterans’ Affairs
DVT deep vein thrombosis
EBA extractable nuclear antigen
EBV Epstein–Barr virus
ECG electrocardiogram
eGFR estimated glomerular filtration rate
ENT ear, nose and throat
ESR erythrocyte sedimentation rate
FOBT faecal occult blood test
FRACGP Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
FRACGP-RG Rural Generalist Fellowship
GAS group A streptococcus
GDS geriatric depression scale
GLP-1 glucagon-like peptide-1
GMC General Medical Council (UK)
GORD gastroesophageal reflux disease
GPMHSC General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration
GPRA General Practice Registrars Australia
GPSA General Practice Supervisors Australia
GRADE grading of recommendations, assessment, development and evaluation
Hb haemoglobin
HHC hereditary haemochromatosis
HIV human immunodeficiency virus
HLA human leukocyte antigen
HPV human papillomavirus
IAHA Indigenous Allied Health Australia
IBS irritable bowel syndrome
IGPRN Indigenous General Practice Registrar Network
IM integrative medicine
INR international normalised ratio
IO intraosseous
ITP idiopathic thrombocytopaenic purpura
IUD intrauterine device
IV intravenous
IVF in vitro fertilisation
KFP key feature problem
KUB kidney, ureter and bladder
LARC long-acting reversible contraceptive
LGBTIQ+ lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer or questioning people
LUTS lower urinary tract symptoms
M/C/S microscopy, culture and sensitivity
MBA Medical Board of Australia
MBS Medicare Benefits Schedule
MDO medical defence organisation
MMSE mini-mental state examination
MCQ multiple choice question
MRI magnetic resonance imaging
MS multiple sclerosis
NAATSIHWP National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners
NACCHO National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation
NAFLD non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
NAIDOC National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee
NASH non-alcoholic steatohepatitis
NDIS National Disability Insurance Scheme
OEM occupational and environmental medicine
OGTT oral glucose tolerance test
PAN polyarteritis nodosa
PBS Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
PCOS polycystic ovary syndrome
PEP post-exposure prophylaxis
PFA psychological first aid
PhD Doctor of Philosophy
PHN primary health network
PIP IHI Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive
POP progestogen-only pill
PPE personal protective equipment
PPI proton pump inhibitor
PPRR Prevention, preparedness, response, recovery
PrEP pre-exposure prophylaxis
PSA prostate specific antigen
PTSD post-traumatic stress disorder
RACF residential aged care facility
RAST radioallergosorbent
RCT randomised controlled trial
RDA Rural Doctors Association of Australia
RSV respiratory syncytial virus
RWA rural workforce agency
S4 Schedule 4 medicine
S8 Schedule 8 medicine
SARS severe acute respiratory syndrome
SLE systemic lupus erythematosus
SMD standardised mean difference
SNAP smoking, nutrition, alcohol and physical activity
SNRI selective–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor
SSRI selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
STEMI ST elevation myocardial infarction
STI sexually transmissible infection
SUD substance use disorder
TB tuberculosis
TIA transient ischaemic attack
TTP thrombotic thrombocytopaenic purpura
UKMEC UK medical eligibility criteria
URTI upper respiratory tract infection
UTI urinary tract infection
UV ultraviolet
WHO World Health Organization

Printed from the RACGP website at https://www.racgp.org.au/education/education-providers/curriculum/curriculum-and-syllabus/a-guide-to-using-the-curriculum-and-syllabus 23/05/2024