General practice tool kit

Your practice team

Last revised: 24 Oct 2019

Building your team

Building and managing a strong practice team is fundamental to your practice’s success. However, this can be a complex undertaking that is subject to many legislative requirements that can change.

The structure of your workforce, as well as the processes you put in place to manage your staff, can significantly affect your workplace culture, the workflows in your business, and your finances.

Key roles in your practice team include:

  • doctors
  • specialist GPs
  • registrars
  • IMGs
  • practice nurses
  • practice manager
  • admin staff.

In addition, you could consider:

  • employing allied health professionals such as dietitians, psychologists or physiotherapists
  • employing or engaging external advisors who are specialists in HR and finance.

RACGP Standards

GP3.1 B GPs working in our practice are one or more of the following:

• A vocationally registered (VR) GP
• A medical practitioner on a pathway to general practice Fellowship
• A general practice registrar under appropriate supervision from a qualified VR GP
• Working under an approved workforce program

Where recruitment of recognised GPs or doctors on a pathway to Fellowship has been unsuccessful, our practice ensures doctors have the qualifications and training necessary to meet the needs of patients.

View the standards >

You can engage specialist GPs as employees or as independent contractors.

Any GPs you employ are subject to the National Employment Standards (NES) and are covered under the Medical Practitioners Award 2010 [MA000031].

GPs who are independent contractors contract their services to your practice, and receive payments from their patients. They then pay your practice a pre-determined percentage as payment for their use of your facilities, which might include access to your practice’s staff, administrative systems and consumables. Independent contractors are generally not entitled to employee benefits such as paid leave, and are responsible for their own superannuation and tax obligations (eg completing their own business activity statements, collecting and paying GST).


Obtain professional advice about the implications of different arrangements you have with employees and contractors. Fair Work, and the ATO can also provide advice about the differences between employees and contractors.

If you decide to employ a GP registrar, this can help your practice achieve its objectives relating to continuing education, workforce development, and developing the next generation of GPs.

Registrars must be engaged as employees (not contractors).

If you choose to employ registrars, there are obligations towards the registrar that you must satisfy, including ones relating to the teaching and supervising of GPs. The National Terms and Conditions for Employment of Registrars (NTCER) outline the minimum entitlements and conditions for employment, and applies to all GP registrars.

You might also be able to employ an international medical graduate (IMG), particularly if your practice is in a regional, rural or remote area. IMGs are subject to a range of restrictions and requirements related to registration and Medicare, which you must adhere to.

Most general practices employ at least one nurse to deliver a variety of clinical services, including preventative care, wound management, and vaccinations. Nurses are generally hired as employees, which makes them subject to the National Employment Standards (NES).

Primary health and general practice nurses are covered under the Nurses Award 2010, and may also be employed under an enterprise agreement (EA). An EA can specify conditions not covered by the award, or that meet or exceed the requirements of the award. If an EA specifies conditions that are less than those specified in the award, the award conditions apply.

According to the Australian Association of Practice Management (AAPM), the core responsibilities of practice managers are:

  • financial management
  • human resource management
  • planning and marketing
  • information management
  • risk management
  • governance and organisational dynamics
  • business and clinical operations
  • professional responsibility.

Because these responsibilities are vital role to the success of your practice, you need to appoint a knowledgeable and highly capable practice manager.

Practice managers will generally be hired as employees, making them subject to the National Employment Standards (NES).

Administrative staff are usually your patients’ point of contact with your practice.

Their key tasks include reception duties, billing, and processing payments.

Other tasks might include triaging patients over the phone or when they present to reception, and implementing infection control.

Admin staff are usually hired as employees, making them subject to the National Employment Standards (NES). Most admin staff will also be covered by the Health Professionals and Support Services Award 2010.

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