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College sees benefits for recruiting, retaining GP

Media Statement
From the Chief Executive Officer of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners,
Claire Austin

14 August 2003

College sees benefits for recruiting, retaining GPs

Government moves to introduce Step Up scholarships for medical students will alleviate developing shortages in primary health care, believes the College of GPs.

College CEO Claire Austin welcomed yet another instance of where the Government is listening to the sector.

“Over the study period of a medical degree this could save a doctor up to $43,000 in course fees,” she said.

Targeting the low-income area would stimulate more interest from potential GPs from the Maori and Pacific Island groups where the spectre of student debt at the end of medical study has proved a “real turn-off.

“We know the key problem areas of primary care are in Maori and Pacific peoples health, and in general practice generally,” Ms Austin said, adding that the move dovetails nicely with recent funding which will provide general practice bursaries at the same level as hospital registrars.

“We had over 90 doctors apply for the 50 places on our 2004 GP registrar training programme, and this will eventually boost applications for the Maori and Pacific people’s positions.“

Ms Austin said the College did not believe the four-year bonding period was excessive, particularly as the Step Up Scholarships offers a one-year break in the bonding period.

“You can never stop the instant OE,” she said. “It’s a reaction to the release from so many years of study. This gives the incentive to return.”

It seems quite reasonable in the terms of general practice, the College felt.


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