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General Practitioners vs General Physicians: How do they differ? (Responsibilities, Training, Salary)

September 30, 2019 0 Comments

Even though they have the same acronym, a General Practitioner and a General Physician are two different jobs. Here are some of the differences in their responsibilities, medical training and salary.

How do they differ? 

General Practitioners 

General Physicians

Difference in Training

Difference in Salary


General Practitioners

Your General Practitioner (GP) may work at medical centres and general practices and in other health services and hospitals. Generally, they are the point of contact for non-emergency and preventative medical services.

GPs trained in medicine and are qualified to treat general health problems like illnesses or injuries that cannot be treated with over-the-counter medication from pharmacies. They work closely with clinical teams and other medical specialists. They have also been considered at the centre of a primary health care system, whereby they play a crucial role in helping patients who are not admitted to a hospital.

GPs can also specialise in particular medical services. They also decide whether their patients need to see other medical professionals. GPs in those cases will give patients a referral.

HealthDirect recommends to obtain a referral from their GP before seeing a specialist in order to get their Medicare rebates. If the patients need to see several medical professionals, the GP can coordinate and integrate their care.

Some of the medical services regularly provided by a GP include:

  1. Diagnosing and treating disease, pain and other medical conditions
  2. Travel medicine and vaccinations services
  3. Mental health advice
  4. Family planning advice
  5. Wound care and minor surgical procedures
  6. Prescribing of medication
  7. Writing referrals for tests or scans
  8. Referring patients to specialists.

Doctor broken heart covered with band aid

General Physician

General Physicians are medical specialists in the education, diagnosis and management of complex and chronic problems, disorders and illnesses. Sometimes also referred to as specialist or consultant physicians.

The general physician has a wide range of expertise, from acute hospital settings to ambulatory care.

Physicians can also specialise in additional areas like acute medicine, perioperative medicine, clinical pharmacology, palliative care and care for the elderly. They often work in hospitals and most general physicians also see patients in consulting rooms.

General Physicians’ broad range of expertise can set them apart in many instances. According to the Internal Medicines of Australia and New Zealand (IMSANZ), their main duties involve:

  1. Global Approach to Assessment: All diagnostic possibilities will be considered, whether the patient has one health problem or multiple.
  2. Complex Care: Physicians can be responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of problems across all body systems in a patient, even manage the social and psychological impacts that may come along.
  3. Medical Procedures: Carrying out medical procedures for patients with a variety of health problems.
  4. Diagnosis: Diagnostic testing to investigate further health problems.
  5. Treatment: Physicians have special expertise in making treatment decisions for patients with comprehensive knowledge of analysis and medications use.
  6. Pre- and Post-operative assessment: Before surgery, Physicians regularly review patients. They advise surgeons of any risks and recommend appropriate methods. They can also assist in postoperative care and ongoing medical care.

Difference in Training

GPs may undergo up to 10 years of medical education and additionally work their way to perform in medical practice and further specialisations. As explained by HealthDirect, GPs complete a basic medical degree and internship, then do additional medical training in general practice.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians summarised the pathways to becoming a General Physician. After Basic and Advanced training requirements have been met, trainees and overseas trained physicians will be recommended by the College to the relevant Education or OTP committee for approval to be admitted to Fellowship.

One of the differences in training between the two comes after completion of the medical degree and post-graduate intern year. General Practitioners can continue in General Practice and find employment in medical centres as well as continue working in Emergency medicine settings. Physicians continue their training by being employed at an accredited hospital where they will train their skills for Fellowship and additional Advance training.

For both, having a clean and active registration with the Australia Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) is necessary.

Doctor training stethoscope and apple

Difference in Salary

As we mentioned in our previous blog, the average annual salary for a General Practitioner in Australia in 2019 can fluctuate around $129,721. However, some GPs could earn a lot more than that and daily average earnings for GP Jobs around $2000 are possible.

GP’s salary may also vary greatly depending on a number of contributing factors to their position. Type of contract, the location of the job, GP Skills & Type of work undertaken, percentage of billings are among the major factors which will affect the earning potential of General Practitioner jobs in Australia.

General Physicians salaries are in a similar pay range and can fluctuate around $116,773. The location, years of experience and the kinds of responsibilities are some of the factors influencing the Physician’s salary range.


If you are a GP with questions about your current billings and earning potential, or would like to explore other opportunities in your area, please contact one of our friendly team of consultants Today and let us tell you what GP jobs are available around Australia.

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