The GP role across Australia is vastly different depending on where you live. In urban area’s it’s fairly similar to the UK. For rural doctor’s however, the job is a totally different animal. These doctors are pretty amazing with their skills and are leaps and bounds more skilled in procedures beyond what the average UK GP does. It’s not unusual for rural GPs to fly to their patients, in fact a number of doctors own personal planes to fly and do clinics in various remote locations. Other GPs work on-call for emergency services that fly them out to treat medical emergencies. They have to be able to handle anything they see. So they need basic (or preferably advanced) surgical skills; they need to be able to do anaesthetics, many are trained in obstetrics and deliver/manage their patients through their entire pregnancies. It’s the norm for rural doctors to manage their own hospital inpatients too. In some locations patients do not want to go to the larger, regional hospital because it may mean a full day’s journey or even a flight away. So the GP has to be able to manage whatever is in front of them.
I work near central Melbourne so the job for me is pretty similar to what it was in the UK. As exciting as the above sounds, I am happy that I am not the only available doctor around when it comes to handling a multi-trauma situation or a complicated childbirth. The thought just terrifies me! However I have become more skilled in minor surgery and injections, as it is often cheaper for the patient to get things done in primary care and I enjoy doing it. Skin cancer is (naturally) a lot more common in Australia, so many GPs do extra training in dermoscopy and skin cancer management. In fact many GPs run skin cancer centres. The one thing I don’t miss is needing to be skilled on all the requirements of QoF!