Guidelines for general practice supervisors

General practice supervisor roles and responsibilities

GPs taking responsibility for supervising of medical students should be prepared to undertake the supervision of the student’s experience in the practice or primary care facility. The supervisor should therefore be available to advise, counsel and mentor the student, so that a graduated clinical experience and responsibility in primary care are achieved. Such supervisors would benefit from access to feedback from both patients and students and should provide regular feedback to students on their progress.

The supervisor will also be the clinical educator for this student, ensuring that the student gains confidence and competence through education and experience. The experience offered should be commensurate with the student’s stage of training, competence and confidence. It should also reflect the student’s and medical school’s defined learning outcomes. The supervisor should ensure that the student has a balanced case mix that encourages learning and a breadth of experience to ensure an understanding of the breadth of skills and knowledge required for a career in general practice throughout Australia.

Should the primary supervisor be absent, another GP should be nominated to act as deputy and take responsibility for the medical student’s supervision. Where there is more than one partner or associate in a practice, it is advisable for two or three to become supervisors, so that there is always continuity of supervision.

The supervisor will be responsible for assisting the student with the completion of any required training records, such as logbooks.

Guidelines for all general practice supervisors

A doctor taking responsibility for the supervision of medical students at all stages of their term should display the following attributes:

  • be known, approachable and easily accessible to the medical student and have established a rapport with them early in their placement
  • be a good communicator
  • be an advocate for the medical student
  • understand the medical student’s role in terms of ‘experience’ of general practice
  • be supportive of the medical student
  • be able to adopt a counselling role with the medical student in relation to career or vocational planning and dealing with work pressures
  • be interested in education, enjoy and be enthusiastic about teaching
  • be able to deal effectively and assertively with other staff and specialists that the medical student will need to deal with

A doctor taking responsibility for the supervision of medical students at all stages of their term should meet the following requirements:

  1. The supervisor should have full and unrestricted registration by the State Medical Board/Council and no prior history of removal from the register for disciplinary reasons under any jurisdiction.
  2. The supervisor should be an excellent clinician. This may be demonstrated by:
    • holding Fellowship of the RACGP and/or FACRRM
    • being accepted by peers as an excellent clinician, who is vocationally recognised, and providing a written recommendation by an experienced general practitioner (GP) who is engaged by a training provider, or other medical education organisation, to provide general practice training, education or assessment who is preferably from the local area.
  3. The supervisor should be a good role model and demonstrate commitment to the development of the profession by:
    • current membership of the RACGP
    • current membership of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM)
    • demonstrable active involvement in a primary care professional organisation.
  4. The supervisor should hold vocational recognition as a GP or rural doctor by Medicare Australia.
  5. The supervisor should participate in documented continuing professional development aimed at improving performance as a general practice educator.
  6. The supervisor should provide ongoing supervision of the medical student and provide teaching on a case basis and by formal regular tutorials.


Guidelines for the Supervision of Medical Students in General Practice (PDF 651 KB) is designed for use by general practitioners and the primary care team to assess their suitability and capability to take on the responsibility for supervising medical students and prevocational doctors.

Teaching medical students - Tips from the frontline an article by Dr James Best uses a case study to illustrate key aspects of supervising medical students in general practice.

Trainees in the Practice: practical issues an article that describes the key aspects of patient and financial management when trainees are present in the practice and suggests solutions to potential issues.

Practice teaching tips for busy clinicians from a series of articles originally published in the Medical Journal of Australia. These also include hospital training, but the principles apply to supervision in the general practice setting. Each topic focuses on how the clinical environment provides enormous opportunities for effective experiential learning.


For further enquires about these resources or supervision of medical students:

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