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The time to select your AGPT training region preference and Regional Training Organisation (RTO) is fast approaching. If you’re not sure which one is the right fit for you, then asking yourself these 12 questions may help.

Same same, but different

It’s important to first understand the AGPT program is delivered to the same College curriculum and standards no matter which RTO you choose. The difference lies in how your training is delivered, and this varies from RTO to RTO. This may include the educator mix, the training tools used, and the opportunities on offer (i.e. range of GP practices, locations or specialist skills).

Making your training region choice is an exciting part of GP training, as it has the potential to shape your future career. That’s why it’s a good move to take the time to consider what you want to achieve during training, being sure to factor in your interests, passions and personal circumstances (for instance, will your family or partner be happy to move with you? If so, what sort of work and school opportunities are available etc.?).

Now let’s turn to the 12 questions to ask yourself in making your RTO decision.

Note: the hyperlinks in each section will take you to relevant areas across GPTQ’s website. If you’d like to find out more about other RTOs, please refer to the list of RTOs with website links at the end of this article.

  1. Where do I want to be located?

You might have already decided you’re keen to be a city-based GP. But making this decision too quickly can rob you of the chance to practise a wider range of medicine with a diverse patient population, which can often be found in rural areas. Picking an RTO that has both urban and rural training practices is one way to ensure rich pickings when it comes to your GP placements (depending on your pathway).

As you will need to be in the same region for the entire training period (two to three years), consider how this impacts your personal life. If you need to relocate, can your family or partner join you? Or are you happy to do the long-distance thing for a period?

Many RTOs also sit in some of the most beautiful parts of Australia. If you fancy a before-work surf, or an after-work stroll through a rainforest, you can easily have it… provided you choose your RTO accordingly!

  1. What sorts of GP practices would I like to work at?

Each RTO has a range of GP practices so it’s worth investigating what’s on offer. Consider things such as:

  1. The number of practices and their locations

This is especially important for those choosing to train with ACRRM. Practices may be limited and locations rural, so you need to carefully weigh up if this suits you for the entire training period.

  1. What types of patient populations they see

You might have a strong desire to work within Indigenous health, so choosing an RTO that has a range of Aboriginal Medical Services is the way to go.

  1. Whether their services align with your special interests

As an example, you might be keen to learn more about skin cancer, so ensure the RTO you choose has GP practices that offer skin cancer detection and treatment.

  1. What is the education program like?

As all RTOs have autonomy over their training format, it’s worth uncovering what each one offers. Do they have a mix of face-to-face and virtual training? What types of educators and GP supervisors will you learn from? Do they provide personal and professional support and if so, what?

  1. What is the GP practice placement process?

The GP practice selection process differs between RTOs. It’s a good idea to get an understanding of what you need to do, along with how much say you’ll have over where you’ll be placed.

  1. Can I choose to train on either pathway and for any fellowship?

It’s a good idea to do a quick check that the RTO you’re considering offers the pathway you wish to train on, be it general or rural. The same can be said for your fellowship choice, whether that’s FRACGP (with or without FARGP), FACRRM or a combination.

  1. Can I train part-time?

Having the option to train part-time is important, whether you intend to use it or not. Ask each RTO what their part-time training policies are, along with trying to get a feel for how supportive they are. Speaking to a current part-time registrar may help here.

  1. What types of extended, specialised and advanced rural skills are available?

Being a GP means you will practise a broad spectrum of medicine, as well as have the chance to develop a specialised skill. Check each RTO’s offerings in this area to ensure there’s an alignment with your current interests, or future ‘maybes’.

  1. What type of exam support will I have?

Passing your fellowship exams can be stressful, so it’s important you have a wide range of support, from educators to supervisors to peers. Check what is available, along with the types of support (online study groups, practice exam sessions and so on).

  1. Can I do an academic post or engage in Indigenous health training?

Perhaps research is your thing, or you want the opportunity to work in Indigenous health. You should pick an RTO that can cater to this.

  1. Is there support for ADF doctors or those on other pathways?

ADF doctors and those on the Rural Generalist Pathway have slightly different training needs. If that’s you, be sure your RTO can service those.

  1. Do they provide any financial support?

Some registrars may be eligible for extra incentives, particularly if they choose to train in a rural or remote location. If you feel you might be in this boat, it’s worth asking the potential RTO that question.

  1. Can I talk to current registrars?

Hearing directly from current or past registrars may be what you need to tip you over the line in making your RTO choice. If you feel it will help you, ask each RTO if you can speak to one or two registrars for some first-hand experience.

Extra information

There is a range of information across the GPTQ website to help you answer these 12 questions, but we encourage you to contact us if you’d like to find out more.

If you’d like to do the same for other RTOs, here are their website links:

It’s also a good idea to familiarise yourself with the MMM remoteness maps across all training regions, and ensure you’ve reviewed the government’s AGPT site.

Good luck with your decision!