Australia will continue to face a general practitioner (GP) shortage unless a significant number of medical students make general practice their chosen career. Perceptions regarding general practice may influence career choices. Thus this study investigated what Australian medical students perceived to be the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing a career in general practice via an anonymous online survey. Fifty-one students indicated general practice to be their first ranked career preference, 200 indicated a career other than general practice, and 106 were undecided. Two-hundred and two students reported having been on a GP placement, whereas 88 students had not. Flexibility, continuity of patient care and work-life balance were the three most common stated advantages to pursuing a career in general practice whereas general practice being boring, poorly paid, and of low prestige were the three most common disadvantages stated. Some disadvantages stated by those with a non-GP preference were not stated by those with a GP preference (e.g. lack of procedural skills, lack of career advancement opportunities). Students with more than 80 h of GP placement experience were more likely to list the advantages of work-life balance and a diversity of problems/illnesses/patients than those with no placement experience but were also more likely to list the disadvantage of low prestige. Negative stereotypes regarding general practice continue to exist which may influence students' career choices.
- Work-life balance