Health Service Categories and Careers


General Medicine, which is also known as Adult Internal Medicine, is concerned with providing comprehensive and integrated health care to adult patients suffering from a variety of complex, chronic and multisystem disorders. It combines the core biomedical sciences: bacteriology, pathology, and physiology, with evidence-based medical practice and a holistic and psychosocial approach to patient care. This approach requires multidimensional assessment and diagnosis, multidisciplinary expertise, broad clinical skills and knowledge of a range of therapeutic treatment options. Internal Medicine often deals with undifferentiated presentations which affect more than one organ and involve co-morbidities and may require acute clinical care alongside long term care in prevention and rehabilitation. Internal Medicine is practiced across acute hospital and ambulatory settings, and is particularly important in rural and remote areas, where access to subspecialists may be limited.  

Many medical disciplines are considered subspecialty areas of Internal Medicine, including Haematology, Oncology, Cardiology, Clinical Pharmacology, Allery and Immunology, Rheumatology, Nephrology, Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Neurology, Nuclear Medicine, Clinical Genetics, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and Geriatric Medicine. Please refer to these specialty areas for more information.  

Physicians undertake core basic training in Internal Medicine (3-years/RACP), before embarking on advanced training in Acute and General Medicine or another subspecialty area. 

General Medicine Jobs

Junior Doctors (PGY 1-3) are medical graduates, who, after completing their undergraduate medical degree, undertake up to 3 ‘postgraduate years’ of pre-vocational medical training. This training consists of ‘terms’ or ‘rotations’ in public or private hospitals, general practice, or sometimes community health settings, in both rural and metropolitan areas. In their first year (PGY 1), junior doctors apply for provisional registration with the Medical Board of Australia and undertake an internship. In the subsequent years (PGY 2-3) junior doctors are eligible for general registration, and can apply for a variety of Junior or Resident Medical Officer positions (the titles of these positions can vary, depending on state or hospital eg. In QLD, the title is Junior/Senior House Officer). This period of 'supervised practice' exposes junior doctors to a broad range of clinical situations, allowing them to develop hands on experience and skills, learn from senior colleagues, develop responsibility, and build a better understanding of the specialisations (or vocational training) they want to pursue in the future.

Registrars (PGY 4-5) are registered medical officers who have completed their medical degree and pre-vocational training (internship and residency/PGY2-3). They have attained general registration with AHPRA and can now undertake specialist/or vocational training positions to broaden and refine their scope of practice and gain experience, skills and competency in their chosen area of medicine. Registrar roles have various titles, including that of principal house officer. Registrars can work towards a specialist qualification and registration by finding employment with an accredited hospital/site and enrolling in a specialist training program. In Australia, around 15 specialty medical colleges provide training programs, each with their own set of requirements in relation to work hours/years (often 3-6 years minimum), hospital accreditation, interviews, and examinations, and some are competitive with limited places. Registrar level medical officers who don't enrol in a specialty training program can further their career by continuing to work in different areas as Hospital Doctors (also known as Career Medical Officers). Registrars are very important members of the health care team, with increased responsibility in the medical care provided, while overseeing and supporting junior doctors and staff. Registrars can access professional development opportunities and will continue to receive important guidance, training, and support from senior staff.

Senior Registrars/CMO (PGY 6+) have undertaken 6 plus years of postgraduate training and are practicing doctors who may be working towards specialist accreditation or pursuing a non-specialist career as a Career Medical Officer or Hospital Medical Officer. They are experienced doctors and responsible for a team of medical staff, the provision of medical care, their own continued professional development and the training and supervision of Junior Doctors and Registrars.

Non-Specialist Senior Doctors/Senior Medical Officers work in large hospitals and public and private clinics. They are experienced Doctors who are employed as ‘Heads of Departments’ and leaders in their teams, playing a clinical, educator, advocate, counsellor and researcher role. Senior Doctors/SMOs undertake continued professional development.

GPs/Consultants/Specialists have undertaken extensive training and attained Specialist Registration with the Medical Board of Australia (AHPRA) as General Practitioners or Specialists in their field of Medicine. They work autonomously and provide clinical leadership and expertise in their medical field. They are responsible for training and educating junior staff and registrars and leading multidisciplinary teams. The work of the health care team supports the GP/Consultant/Specialist and allows them to focus on more complex medical consultations, examinations, diagnostics and treatments. GPs work in General Practices and hospitals, whereas Specialists/Consultants work in hospital departments and private clinics. They can provide both acute and outpatient care, and many are involved in tertiary teaching and research.

Clinical Directors/Medical Directors are senior healthcare professionals who have extensive experience in clinical medicine and hospital administration. They are registered with the Medical Board of Australia, and have often completed a Master’s degree which combines their medical knowledge with administration skills. This role is considered the highest administrative position of the organisation, often only overseen by the management board. Clinical/Medical Directors have serious supervisory and operational responsibilities. They oversee, and are accountable for, the clinical, professional and financial performance of the department/organisation, and the delivery of high quality, effective and efficient patient care. They may be responsible for human resource management, fiscal management, recruiting and credentialing, implementation of governance frameworks and accreditation, attending board meetings, coordinating interdepartmental functions, developing, monitoring and evaluating the protocols and guidelines for the clinical staff. People in this role require excellent communication, interpersonal and management skills.