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More GP places for medical graduates

More GP places for medical graduates

Jul 16: A record number of medical school graduates will start training to become general practitioners in 2013 under a plan to ramp up the nation's medical workforce.

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek says 1138 places will be available for GP training in 2013, about 100 more than this year, with the number set to double in 2014.

Plibersek said the 2013 intake would be a record.

"We want to make it easier for families to be able to see a GP when and where they need one, and this record number of GP training places will help that happen," she says.

"By 2020 there will be an extra 5500 GPs and 680 specialist doctors nationwide."

The expansion of GP training comes after the Australian Medical Students Association (AMSA) urged the federal government to put medical school places on hold because there were not enough intern positions for graduates.

The association estimates about 450 medical students will miss out on internships this year.

AMSA president James Churchill welcomed the additional GP training places, but he said urgent action was needed to ensure additional quality places were provided in future.

"We do need to see an expansion in the number of pre-vocational and vocational training places so Australia can train the doctors it needs," Churchill says.

He said those who missed out on GP training places would either need to apply again in future years or choose a different medical vocation to pursue.

The AGPT program, the main pathway to becoming a qualified GP in Australia takes three years to complete full-time, and trainee GPs consult with patients under the supervision of a senior doctor.