A doctor diagnoses for a woman. (File photo/Chinanews.com)
China will improve training of general practitioners to support family doctors in their role as the gatekeepers of health, according to a guideline released by the State Council, China's Cabinet, on Wednesday.
"General practitioners are gatekeepers of people's health and controlling medical expenditures," the guideline said. "Speeding up the training of qualified general practitioners is of great significance to improving healthcare services at the grassroots level, promoting services provided by family doctors … and improving people's health."
It is expected that five qualified general practitioners will be available for every 10,000 residents in China by 2030, which will meet demand, the guideline said.
Medical colleges should attach high importance to the development of general medicine, and all students majoring in medicine should receive education and practice in general medicine, according to the guideline.
Authorities should further support the development of teaching staff of general medicine, and encourage medical colleges to employ general practitioners with teaching qualifications to train medical students, the guideline said.
Comprehensive hospitals, including traditional Chinese medicine hospitals, that have been certified as bases for standardized training of resident physicians, should also intensify general medical training and jointly train general practitioners with community medical care institutions, according to the guideline.
Education authorities should also improve continuous training for general medicine including providing guidelines, developing online education, and conducting programs aimed at providing training to general practitioners, according to the guideline.
All doctors working in villages should receive basic medical education and training, and health authorities should send them to higher-level hospitals－such as major public hospitals in counties－to gain experience, according to the guideline.
China is short of up to 210,000 general practitioners, Jin Shenguo, an official at the science and education department under the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said at an academic conference on general medicine in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, in April.
Zeng Yixin, vice-minister in charge of the commission, said compared with specialists, general practitioners in China earn less and face difficulties getting promotions and career development, which has led to a shortage.
Meanwhile, training of general practitioners needs to be improved so they are better qualified, he said.