214 doctors representing 28 ethnicities start specialist GP training

1 February 2021

Across New Zealand this week, 214 doctors will begin their training to become specialist general practitioners. The new cohort of GP registrars are a diverse bunch of New Zealanders that represent 28 ethnicities including Māori, Pacific Islanders, Asian, Middle Eastern, and Pākehā.

The group, who are working from Northland to Southland, are enrolled in the General Practice Education Programme (GPEP), a three-year programme that includes academic as well as clinical work that will teach them everything they need to know to be fantastic GPs.

College CEO Lynne Hayman was heartened to see such diversity in the applicants. "GPs have a special relationship with their patients, often for much of those patient’s lives, so having a doctor who understands your community, culture, and way of life can make a huge impact on a person’s health outcomes.

"As well as teaching medical practice, we train doctors how to use communications skills and empathy to build rapport with patients.

These skills are important for building trust and, ultimately, enabling effective care," she said.

African Dr Muna Mwandila recently completed his three-year training, becoming a Fellow of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners in March 2020. He had this advice for the first-year intake, "Appreciate that general practice training is quite different to hospital practice.

"General practice is very patient-centric and holistic where the focus is on being able to listen to your patient and what they need. After that, the medicine falls into place.

"I found my training changed the way I looked at medicine; the programme also confirmed that general practice was the right choice for me."

The path to becoming a GP:

  • Six years as a medical student
  • Two years (at least) postgraduate medical experience
  • Three-year general practice education programme run by The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners
  • Fellowship assessment
  • Continued professional development and vocational training to annually renew a practicing certificate.