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Funding boost for GP training

Media Statement

From the president of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners,

Dr Helen Rodenburg

6 July 2003

Funding boost for GP training

An extra million dollars of Government funding for GP training will lift general practice recruitment, believes College of GPs president Dr Helen Rodenburg.

Dr Rodenburg announced today that the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners has received an additional million dollars for GP training through the Clinical Training Agency.

"We're absolutely delighted," Dr Rodenburg said. "It means the Government is listening to the profession, identifying the need to recruit more GPs and targeting health dollars where they will make a real difference."

The new funding will

- Boost the bursaries paid to GP registrars during their 40-week fulltime training

- Double the number of places available on an innovative Rural Postgraduate programme

- Continue a professional development initiative for all GPs.

"It puts general practice on an equal footing with other specialities," Dr Rodenburg said. "We have been urging Government that the bursary was too low for a long time."

Previously, some medical graduates burdened with massive student loans did not consider general practice for financial reasons, but this new funding will increase bursaries to a level comparable with other specialist trainees.

After graduating from med school, doctors must complete a minimum two years in hospitals before beginning specialty training.

During those two years, doctors rotate through specialities to broaden their experience, and for the first time this year that included the option of a 12-week rotation through rural general practice. A total of 10 places were available, some of which are still taking place. Next year, 20 positions will be available.

"The response to this College-CTA initiative has been extremely positive," said Dr Pamela Hyde, national director of the College's General Practice Education Programme, Stage I.

"Already several of the first group have applied for places on the full GPEP training programme for 2004. We can now build on that success. It is now a sought-after option for house surgeons."

GPEP Stage I for GP registrars is a 40-week fulltime course that includes clinical experience in general practices. The registrars aim for the Primex exam each November. If successful, they can then move to GPEP II, the Advanced Vocational Education programme that can take a minimum two years but leads to Fellowship of the College.

Fellows of the College may then apply to the Medical Council of New Zealand to become vocationally registered, which entitles them to practice independently of supervision.

A group of AVE facilitators - themselves Fellows of the College - who assist and support GPs through the programme, has doubled the number of GPs working towards Fellowship this year.

"Attaining Fellowship indicates a GP's commitment to lifelong learning and maintaining their professional expertise," Dr Rodenburg said.

Applications closed today for 2004 GPEP Stage I, with 74 applications for 50 positions.

Of the 50, a maximum of 10 positions may attract a further Rural Scholarship, three a Maori Scholarship and one a Pacific Island Scholarship.

"This targeting will really help those with heavy student loans," Dr Rodenburg said.


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