THE Australian Medical Association is calling for more generalist doctors to service rural areas.
The peak body yesterday released a position statement on boosting the number of generalist medical practitioners in the workforce.
The AMA said fewer medical graduates were moving into this career path, which includes GP’s, rural generalists and specialists such as surgeons with an extended range of advanced skills and knowledge.
Australia lags behind other countries with only 20 per cent of specialists, not providing primary care, practising some sort of generalist medicine.
This compares to 50 per cent in the United Kingdom and 40 per cent in New Zealand.
AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said yesterday generalists have been highly regarded specialists in local Australian communities for generations, particularly in remote areas.
"Many Australian families, especially in rural Australia, have been cared for by the local family doctor who ran the general practice, delivered babies, and performed minor operations," Dr Hambleton said.
"But, over the last decade, the medical workforce has become increasingly specialised, driven by changes in knowledge, technology, health service delivery, and health care financing.
"The number of medical graduates choosing a generalist career path has decreased significantly, which means patients in some areas may not be getting the best access to the type of care they need when they need it.
"At the same time, many generalists are retiring or moving to other locations, and there is nobody with the skill set to replace them.
"We need to rebuild our generalist workforce."
The AMA has called for a focus on training programs and planning to meet generalist’s career requirements and to ensure proper distribution of them to the areas of need.