Putting General Practice in its Place

GP clinical placements are key in encouraging more medical students to consider a career in general practice.

When a young person presented at a Victorian country practice in July 2022, the consultation took an unexpected turn for veteran GP, Dr Ken Baddeley (MBBS 1979). Third year MD student Martin Read (BBiomed 2019) was observing, and due to some recent studies, Martin was able to provide some valuable insight as the consult unfolded.

The information exchange between the veteran GP and next generation GP highlights the valuable two-way learning that can occur between doctors and medical students during clinical placement.

“It became apparent during the consult that the young person wanted their gender identity altered and so gender consideration then played a significant role in that consult,” recalls Dr Baddeley.

“Martin had done some relevant courses and so his insight was valuable. He became the ‘teacher’ during the debrief afterwards.”

Dr Baddeley graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1979 and after some years at Royal Melbourne Hospital became a GP. He has been a long-time mentor to medical students on GP clinical placement from the University.

In mid-2022, Martin spent five weeks observing and participating in medical, surgical, nursing, preventative and psycho-social aspects of the general practice with Dr Baddeley and his colleagues.

“I sat with Ken and the other GPs in the practice and I observed how they work. After the first week, I was given my own room and I’d see a patient first while the GPs consulted with other patients,” says Martin.

“Then Ken would come to my room and I’d present the case, explain what I thought was going on and outline a potential plan of action. You have to think on your feet and remember what you learned in a lecture two years ago and you realise what you do and don’t know.

“In my first week at the practice I saw children, pregnant women, young people and older patients. You never know who will walk through the door and what area of medicine you will need to put into practice. I learned how to listen to a patient and to make them feel they’ve been listened to while also gathering useful information. I also realised you can’t just have a good smile and bedside manner – you really need to know your stuff! I very much enjoyed the general nature of general practice and if I become a GP, it’s all Ken’s fault!”

Dr Baddeley hopes that GP clinical placements encourage more students like Martin to consider a career in general practice. He also hopes GPs continue to support medical students so they can get a taste of what the world of general practice is like.

“It is a challenging area but the connection you have with people is what the job is all about. I’ve delivered some babies who are now 20 or 30 years old and it’s lovely to know those people for their whole life. I value that,” he says.



The number of young doctors choosing to specialise in general practice has fallen to its lowest in more than five years. We offer one of Australia’s largest programs of general practice placements so our MD students can see for themselves why general practice is so important to our healthcare system.

If you are a Victorian GP and you would like to help us train future clinicians, please get in touch with us at gp-enquiries@unimelb.edu.au.

For more information visit Teaching in general practice.