Sydney launches GP Clinical School to elevate the profession and research

17 May 2023
Growing the GP workforce and fostering research collaborations
The University today launched a new clinical school to enhance general practice as a preferred career choice among medical students, grow opportunities for GP-related research and champion multidisciplinary care in the community.

The Sydney General Practice (GP) Clinical School sits within the Sydney Medical School. Its new status is unique in that it is on par with the University’s hospital-based clinical schools spread throughout metropolitan and rural NSW.

Group shot of speakers at the launch event
The clinical school will play a key role in growing the GP workforce and preparing our medical students to grapple with the complex health needs of our population as part of an integrated community-based health care team.
Prof Cheryl Jones, Dean of Sydney Medical School

Dean of the medical school Professor Cheryl Jones said the creation of the GP clinical school is important because GPs play a vital front-line role in Australia’s health care system.

“While almost 90 percent of the population consulted their GP in 2020 to 2021, either virtually or in person, only 1 percent were admitted to an acute hospital,” said Professor Jones.

“This initiative builds on a strong history of GP education and research at Sydney and is timely given the opportunities around Medicare reform in Australia. With an ageing and diverse population with growing rates of chronic disease, holistic care delivered by GPs can have an immense impact both at the individual and population level.

“The clinical school will play a key role in championing this, in growing the GP workforce and preparing our medical students to grapple with the complex health needs of our population as part of an integrated community-based health care team.”

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd AM, a GP for over 35 years and a former head of general practice at the University said: “We need to be doing all we can to boost the number of medical graduates choosing a career in general practice, and to enhance primary care research opportunities to better plan for the future health care needs of the people of our nation.  The creation of this new General Practice Clinical School is a timely and welcome initiative by The University of Sydney, and sends an important message about the centrality of general practice in Australian health care.”

The clinical school announcement is the culmination of years of innovation within the Sydney Medical School, including the 2020 launch of the new Doctor of Medicine curriculum which incorporated increased exposure to GP training.

Medical students now participate in placements with GPs across NSW for one day per week over 16 weeks in their second year of study and for 8 weeks full-time in their fourth year, instead of having a single term of experience in their second last year.

Students are also encouraged to find placements that align with their personal preferences, such as if they have a particular connection with a country area.

Executive Dean and Pro Vice-Chancellor Medicine and Health, Professor Robyn Ward said: “General practice is the cornerstone of primary health care in Australia. We pride ourselves on the multidisciplinary training opportunities the university offers our students in the health professions.”

In addition, the clinical school will foster research collaborations that address the needs of the profession. Current projects focus on topics such as medication safety and deprescribing, preventive medical care for young people, GP management of melanoma, vaccine uptake in priority populations and postpartum care for women from diverse backgrounds.

Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Sydney Professor Mark Scott AO congratulated the clinical school directors Associate Professor Fiona Robinson and Associate Professor Melissa Kang on the initiative.

“We know how vital GPs are to individuals and families, and I commend the Sydney Medical School for being forward-thinking in their focus on supporting students, researchers and GPs in the community through the creation of the General Practice Clinical School,” said Professor Scott.

“In the long term, all of us will benefit from their vision.”

Image (L to R): Dr David Leaf (NSW Director of Training, Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine), A/Prof Fiona Robinson (Co-Director, Sydney GP Clinical School) Prof Robyn Ward (Executive Dean & Deputy Vice-Chancellor Medicine and Health) Prof Annamarie Jagose (Provost & Deputy Vice-Chancellor), Dr Michael Bonning (NSW President of the Australian Medical Association), Prof Charlotte Hespe (Royal Australian College of General Practitioners), Prof Cheryl Jones (Dean of Sydney Medical School) and A/Prof Melissa Kang (Co-Director, Sydney GP Clinical School).

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