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Key organisations call for the establishment of a Medical Workforce Planning Advisory Committee to oversee research for medical workforce planning, in order to improve planning and coordination throughout the medical education continuum. Please click here to view the full joint statement.
Medical Deans Australia and Zealand does not support the creation of new medical schools or any significant increase in medical student numbers in Australia until the health system is strengthened to adequately train the current boom in medical students.
‘Currently, we do not have the resources in places to ensure that all current medical students will have the vocational training to become fully qualified practising doctors,’ said Acting President, Professor Michael Hensley.
‘We are undergoing a boom in student numbers, but there are not enough clinical training places, and not enough internships and vocational training places for those students who graduate.’
Medical student clinical training places, usually in hospitals and primary care, allow students to learn the vital practical aspects of medicine that accompanies their academic study.
Once students graduate, they need to spend one year in a hospital internship in order to have a basic registration as a doctor but they need a further 4 to 8 years in hospitals and primary care to
complete their training in order to work as General practitioners and specialists.
‘Before we consider adding new schools or more students, we need Australia’s health system to be able to accommodate the current growth which reaches its peak in graduates in 2014 but not in the need
for vocational training places until 2020, Professor Hensley said.
Australia’s medical schools are currently undergoing significant growth, with student numbers growing strongly.
In 2006, Australia had 1,335 medical graduates, not including international students; this number is set to jump to 3,108 in 2014, as new medical schools come on line and increased numbers at established schools move through their programs.
More information: Michael Hensley, 0408 979 030
The Federal Government must not increase the number of medical student places for at least two years (more…)
Australia’s peak medical university body has welcomed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s announcement (more…)
Hundreds of Australian medical students may be unable to qualify as doctors because of a looming shortage of training places, the country’s peak medical university body has warned.
The Medical Deans of Australia and New Zealand said there would not be enough intern places for all graduates within a few years unless governments acted urgently to increase the number of places.
The one-year intern training places, usually in a large metropolitan hospital, are essential for registration as a doctor.
‘We need a guarantee of training places for all medical graduates, whether they be Commonwealth funded, fee-paying domestic or international students,’ said Medical Deans President, Professor Jim Angus.
‘Federal and state government health ministers recently met and only guaranteed places for Commonwealth-funded students, leaving about one-quarter of our medical students without certainty. Young people who embark on a career in medicine need to study for years and who would commit time and money if there is no training – and no job – at the end of it?’
Professor Angus said the number of training places was not keeping pace with the increase in the number of medical students. Australia had 1,335 medical graduates in 2006 (not including international students) and this number is set to jump to 3,108 in 2014.
‘Those facing the possibility of missing out on an intern place include full fee-paying Australian students and international students who have completed years of study in Australia,’ said Professor Angus.
Local full fee-paying students make up about 6 per cent of Australia’s 14,500 medical students and international students make up about 17 per cent. Professor Angus said about 70 per cent of international students at some medical schools indicated they wanted to continue working in Australia after becoming fully qualified.
‘There is a shortage of doctors in Australia and we are trying to remedy this situation, with more students in the system,’ he said. ‘But if we cannot guarantee them access to complete their training, this shortage will simply get worse and worse. There is need for urgent action and a guarantee of intern places for all.’
Professor Angus said last week’s health funding announcement by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd provided a welcome opportunity for guaranteed training places, but there was a long way to go before the outcomes of the proposal were known. ‘Urgent action is needed now,’ he said.
Dean of Bond University’s faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Professor Richard Hays, said fee-paying Australian students were deeply concerned that they may miss out on training once they qualified, despite assurances from the Queensland Government that there would be adequate intern places for domestic graduates in the state.
More information: Jim Angus (03) 8344 5894
Medical Deans of Australia and New Zealand has welcomed the plan released on Wednesday by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, saying it offers the opportunity to improve training for doctors, from junior level to consultants.
‘This provides an opportunity to bring all students in intern places under the one umbrella and have improved planning and funding for proper training, and potentially better coordination of training across the continuum,’ said Medical Deans President Professor Jim Angus.
‘At the other end it offers the opportunity to build academic clinical centres in major hospitals, which is a significant benefit.
‘We welcome the fact that teaching and research is explicitly mentioned in regards to hospital funding.
‘The Medical Deans are also excited about the opportunity to work with the proposed Health and Hospital Network to create fully integrated teaching infrastructure at a local level from Day One.
‘The plan also empowers clinical decision-making, which we applaud,’ Professor Angus said.
More information: Jim Angus (03) 8344 5894
International medical students must be guaranteed training places in the Australian hospital system after they graduate, Australia’s peak medical faculty body said today.
‘The one-year intern training by any new graduate is, in essence, an extension of their university course, where they put into practice years of study,’ said Professor Jim Angus, the President of the Medical Deans of Australia and New Zealand.
‘The intern year is essential for registration as a doctor and must be guaranteed to all.’
Professor Angus said an increase in the number of graduates in coming years was not being matched by an increase in the number of training places (which are usually in public hospitals) and warned against any push to limit places to domestic graduates.
‘To deny training places to international students is likely to sharply reduce the number of students who want to study in Australia,’ Professor Angus said.
‘This in turn would reduce the diversity of the student population and the cultural richness they contribute – and it would potentially threaten the viability of some university courses.
‘Our international students are full fee-paying. Their contributions support our universities and enable us to provide a significantly better education for local students.’
Professor Angus said a significant proportion of international students – as many as 70 per cent in some universities – indicated they wanted to continue working in Australia after becoming fully qualified.
‘Any push to deny proper intern training for those schooled in Australia makes no sense whatsoever, particularly at a time when we are importing doctors that often require retraining and assessment to fill workforce shortfalls.
‘There is an urgent need for governments to act to ensure there are enough training places for all our medical students, including those from overseas. This is now a matter of priority, before it both affects Australia’s universities and overall health system.’
More information, Jim Angus, (03) 8344 5894
Adam Cresswell and Matthew Franklin’s front-page report (Training fails to prepare new doctors, 1 February) highlights the importance of high-quality training for newly graduated medical students, but does not fully acknowledge the impact of increasing student numbers without a corresponding increase in training facilities.
Australia is currently seeing its biggest ever growth in new doctors. In 2006, there were 1,335 medical graduates (not including international students), and this number is set to more than double to 3,108 by 2014.
If you double the size of any industry over a few years it will create headaches, and one of the most pressing is ensuring quality, and sufficient of training places.
We need to look at not only additional training places in the traditional teaching hospitals, but look at training in new settings, including private hospitals, and expanding the training that young doctors can do in general practice.
This needs to be urgently addressed at state and federal level if we are to maintain our world-class medical standards.
Australia now has 18 universities that teach medical students and, each year, a new cohort of graduates enters the workforce as interns. This is where they spend their first year as doctors, under close supervision from experienced clinicians, consolidating their skills in the practical aspects of medicine.
This intern year is crucial to a doctor’s development. It is when years of study is translated into the practical application of medicine, from treating wounds and reading x-rays to dealing with patients and preparing medication doses.
Today, most medical schools have pre-internship programs that help bridge the gap from medical school to internship. But ensuring there are adequate places are vital as it can take 14 years to train a qualified, independent doctor, including medical school, internship, residency and specialist training.
Professor James Angus
President, Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand Inc
1 February, 2010