Switzerland, like many other countries, has a shortage of General Practitioners (GPs). Optional GP training modules in GP practices were offered during the at least 5-year GP training program to increase student and trainee interest in becoming a GP. The training modules had not yet been evaluated. We determined how many Swiss GP trainees became practicing GPs after they completed optional training modules, and if longer modules were associated with higher rates of GP specialization.
In this population-based cohort study, we included GP trainees who chose an optional GP training module in GP practice, provided by the Foundation to Promote Training in General Practice (WHM) between 2006 and 2015. GP trainees were invited to complete an online survey to assess the primary outcome (becoming a practicing GP by 2016). Data on non-responders was collected via an internet search. We calculated univariate time-to-event curves to become a practicing GP, stratified by trainee's gender, length, part-time training, and number of years after graduation until training modules were completed. We used a multivariate model to adjust for characteristics of participants, training, and satisfaction with training modules.
We assessed primary outcome for 351 (92.1%) of 381 former GP trainees who participated in a WHM program between 2006 and 2015. Of these 218 (57%) were practicing GPs by 2016. When focusing on the trainees who had completed training between 2006 and 2010, the rate of practicing GPs was even 73%. Longer (p = 0.018) and part-time training modules (p = 0.003) were associated with higher rates of being a practicing GP. Most (81%) practicing GPs thought their optional GP training module was (very) important in their choice of specialty.
GP trainees who spent more time training in a GP practice, or who trained part-time were more likely to become practicing GPs. Most (80%) rated their training module as (very) important in their choice of career, highlighting that these modules effectively encourage the interests of those already inclined towards the GP specialty. Longer GP training modules and more opportunities for part-time training may attract and retain more interested trainees, and possibly increase the number of practicing GPs.