Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Ann Bolch Meets Doogie Howser


Does anybody remember the TV Show Doogie Howser, about the 16-year-old doctor? Well, Ann Bolch believes that Doogies are commonplace - after all, look at Balamurali Ambati, Sho Yano, and Akrit Jaswal.

Nevertheless, there are very few, if any GPs aged 20-24 in Australia, and given the current trend towards postgraduate medical degrees, they will become fewer and fewer. That doesn't stop Ann quoting this demographic in her comprehensive summary of the pertinent facts relating to General Practitioners. Ann, check your facts, please.

Most medical schools will not routinely accept undergraduate students under the age of 17. With generally a 5-6 year course, this means that minimum age to graduation is 22 or 23. Add an internship and 3-5 years of GP training, and you have someone who is 25-28 years old before they can call themselves a qualified GP. Mind you, any medical graduate could theoretically go out and set up shop as a GP, but I doubt they would earn $1117 a week before business expenses and tax.

Apart from this, Ann does not understand that there are Medical Practitioners, General Practitioners, and General Medical Physicians. They are different.

And what the hell does "staff turnover in the industry" mean? GPs work until they retire. They don't go off to other careers. They don't get fired. There is no turnover. Either not enough train to be GPs or too many retire, and let me tell you - there is very little turnover in the GP industry, except for those that worked, worked and worked until they died, and are now turning over in their graves over your uninformed article.

8 comments:

Milk & Two Sugars said...

Oh? And what, pray tell, is an "approximate percentage"? As you noted, 20-24 year old medical graduates are rare as hens' teeth. I'd love the opportunity to earn in excess of a grand a week, rather than the $175 Centrelink feels I'm worth.

What do you think "employment fell slightly" means? Is that to say there are fewer GPs around these days? I'm confused.

And why did she include a pictue of a WASP male wearing a pristine white coat? Why not walk around the corner to her nearest general practice and take a photo of a real doctor?

/gipe over.

The Girl said...

The picture looks like it came out of a sales catalogue for white coats!

If we are to believe her, the average full-time GP earns less than $80k per year. I could have earned that in my health job BEFORE returning to medical school and becoming a doctor. For a standard work week, that is just under $40 per hour. I would sincerely hope that GPs earn more.

Sheepish said...

Girl & M&TS: I'm sure she makes a similarly inaccurate writeup of some other profession every week. She obviously has no idea about any of the jobs she is supposedly researching.

Anonymous said...

And what the hell does "staff turnover in the industry" mean? GPs work until they retire. They don't go off to other careers. They don't get fired. There is no turnover.

In a post that makes a point of savaging someone else's article, I couldn't let this go unchallenged.

There is significant turnover of General Practitioners. Many go off into other careers. These are the people that go onto specialize, namely in fields such as psychiatry and O & G.

Indeed, many go off into non-medical careers. Why?

f we are to believe her, the average full-time GP earns less than $80k per year. I could have earned that in my health job BEFORE returning to medical school and becoming a doctor. For a standard work week, that is just under $40 per hour. I would sincerely hope that GPs earn more.

If you work in a profession where 75% of your revenue is eaten up by costs (which are increasing at double the CPI) then you can easily see how 80k take home pay is the norm. Furthermore, GPs as a group are incredibly intelligent and talented and more than capable of succeeding in other professions.

It maybe worthwhile doing your own research before you write off someone else's article like you have. "The girl", if you're not happy with 80k p/a, maybe reconsider your choice.

Sheepish said...

Anonymous - I strongly believe that you are incorrect. As I pointed out, the modern day GP has taken a minimum of 4-6 years to become a specialist GP. Some will develop side-interests in other fields, such as Obstetrics, Psychiatry, Rural Surgery, Anaesthesia, Skin Cancer or Sexual Health, but only a very small minority will give up their work as a GP and formally enter another 3-8 year advanced training for another specialty. Probably about as many surgeons that give up surgical practice to train as GPs.

I stand by my statement that it is unusual and uncommon for a GP to do anything other than work until they retire from medicine. Perhaps a small number of GPs give up medicine because it is too frustrating and decide to run hobby farms, play the stock market, or start up non-medical businesses instead - but you can hardly call that staff turnover.

Anonymous said...

I strongly believe that you are incorrect.

Congratulations. However, as many atheists will tell you, belief alone is not necessarily sufficient to bring about reality.

I'm well aware of the General Practice training program, having been through it myself, I'm also aware of the number of general practitioners who are walking away from their careers for a number of reasons. This has never been an extremely small minority by any stretch of the imagination.

The pay is awful, the working conditionings are deteriorating by the year, and turnover is significant and increasing, your claim that "there is no turnover" is incorrect.

Please don't think that it is unusual and uncommon for a GP to do anything other than work until they retire from medicine. Perhaps a small number of GPs give up medicine because it is too frustrating and decide to run hobby farms, play the stock market, or start up non-medical businesses instead - but you can hardly call that staff turnover

Anonymous said...

This 'by the numbers' column in the Age is notoriously inaccurate, its just done a story on plumbers where it massively overestimated the number of plumbers in Australian and also confused the percentage figure for plumbers in Victoria with the number of plumbers.

They should really stop getting people to write for it who have no idea what they are talking about.

Michael said...

Who is this anonymous?

I am constantly baffled by this mythology about General Practice. Why are there GPs bagging out General Practice anyway? To me, it is really weird.

In terms of advertised positions for General Practice, there is a high vacancy rate. Basically, practices looking to hire more GPs (i.e., as an employee or as a subcontractor) have a difficult time holding on to the "mobile" GPs. There is a shortage and once a GP has found a practice that they like, they tend not to move. Practices with a long term vacancy usually have good reasons why the position remains vacant (i.e., the pay and conditions offered are not economic).

It is not uncommon for GPs to reduce their working hours or to spend time in other activities. For example, many will simply take time off, do other non-medical work (e.g., personal finance), and some do organisational work (e.g., for the local division of GP or the College) or academic work. New GPs tend to work less hours overall. As such, the total "GP consulting hours" is reducing, thus, increasing the demand on GPs.

As for $1500 pre-tax earnings per week, that is bollocks. I earn more that in a single good day. I would earn more than that on two quiet days. I work for as a contractor in my practice and I would be shocked if the partners did not easily earn twice what I do.

Regards,
Michael Tam