Home // 2012 // September

Intern Crisis

By | Thursday, September 27th, 2012
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The Federal Government announced on 26 September a strategy to address the shortfall of medical intern positions in 2013.

The importance of finding a solution cannot be understated, and has received much media attention. Below are links outlining the media coverage to date:

Media coverage in Malaysia –

Act now or lose 150-plus doctors

By | Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
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Australia faces losing more than 150 locally trained doctors unless a decision is made this week to create new intern places, the head of the country’s peak medical education body has warned.

President of Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand Professor Justin Beilby said unless the Health Ministers came to a decision at their meeting in Canberra tomorrow (Wednesday 26 September), time would run out.

‘Some State Governments and some State Health Ministers have simply dropped the ball on this issue,’ said Professor Beilby. ‘For years they have known this day was coming, and they are still dithering.

‘Everyone knows we have a chronic shortage of doctors in Australia, and these locally trained international medical students want to stay in this country and work here,’ Professor Beilby said.

‘These young doctors will help ensure Australia’s health workforce needs are met.’

About 3,000 medical students will graduate at the end of this year. All must complete a one-year internship – often in a hospital – to become fully qualified as a doctor.

While all Australian students and about two-thirds of the 500-plus international students seeking an internship in Australia have found an intern place for 2013, more than 150 international students look set to miss out.

‘This discussion has been going on for months and months. The lack of action is a disgrace,’ Professor Beilby said.

‘New places are not created overnight. They need to be properly accredited and that takes time. And everyone knows that time is almost up.’

Professor Beilby said Medical Deans had been working hard and negotiating in good faith with all parties over many months to ensure a positive outcome.

‘We are open to ideas on how to resolve this issue, but it must be done urgently. We need leadership, or we will lose these Australian-trained doctors forever.’

Medical Deans is made up of the Deans of Australia’s 18 university medical schools and the two New Zealand schools.

More information, Justin Beilby: (08) 8303 5193 or 0403 017 457

Medical education for the future

By | Thursday, September 20th, 2012
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The challenges of investing in a clinical academic workforce will be one of the highlights of discussion at the MedEd12 Conference beginning in Sydney today.

Delegates will also discuss innovation, the importance of widening access to a medical education and how best to invest for the future.

The conference will be officially opened by the Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek.

‘This is an important time for medical education, which faces challenges on several fronts,’ said Professor Justin Beilby, President of Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand, the organiser of the conference.

‘This meeting gives the leaders in medical education the opportunity to challenge current thinking and debate how best we should train the next generation of Australian doctors.’

A key element for discussion is the challenge of ensuring there are enough clinical academics available to teach medical students.

‘In recent years there has been a significant rise in the number of medical students, and in turn there has been a corresponding demand to find the people to teach them,’ Professor Beilby said.

‘Our challenge is to ensure the quality of teaching remains high, to ensure our graduates maintain the high standards established in Australia.’

Key speakers at the two-day conference include UK academic Professor Jim McKillop, Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb and futurist Dr Peter Ellyard.

Medical Deans is made up of the Deans of Australia’s 18 university medical schools and the two New Zealand schools.

The conference is supported by the Federal Department of Health and Ageing, the Australian Medical Council, the Committee of Presidents of Medical Colleges, the Confederation of Postgraduate Medical Education Councils and Heath Workforce Australia.


Staying the course: University attrition rates key to true parity

By | Monday, September 3rd, 2012
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“Getting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into studying medicine is one thing but getting the graduations at the other end is the really important thing.”

The percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students starting University may have reached parity with national population percentages – but there is still a long way to go before true parity is achieved.

The intake of first-year Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students into University has reached 2.5 per cent, a figure that matches the percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia.

But what percentage of students are graduating and is attaining post-graduate parity good enough?

According to Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association President Peter O’Mara it is ensuring that students stay the course through to graduation that matters most.

Approximately 30 per cent of students don’t complete the course – compared to just two per cent for non-indigenous students.

Dr O’Mara said while it is good and well to talk about the students going in to University it is far more important to see those students coming out the other side with degrees.

“Although this is good news, it’s not the end of the story,” Dr O’Mara said.

“We have higher attrition rates for our students.

“The reasons are multifaceted, a lot of our students have to be away from home, and they still have strong family and cultural commitments.

“So they have all the pressures that non-indigenous students have -which are quite a bit because medicine is a hard thing to study – but then they have a whole heap of other facets on top of that which makes it really tough.

“Although some Universities are really supporting our students well, some of them aren’t quite doing such a great job.

“That is an important decision for indigenous students to make when their thinking about study and where is going to best suit their needs.”

A new Collaboration Agreement between the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association and the Medical Deans of Australia and New Zealand will be signed today to encourage more indigenous people to take up study and help them through their training years.

Currently there are approximately 160 indigenous doctors across the country, but that figure could double in the next five years should retention rates improve.

“We’ve been working together for some time now,” Dr O’Mara said.

“We collaborate to make pathways more appropriate for entry for students to support them through.

“Clearly it’s not just the responsibility of aboriginal people and aboriginal doctors to make positive inroads or close the gap between the disparities in aboriginal health – it is the responsibility of everyone.

“So part of what we do there is teach the non indigenous students who are going to come on and become doctors appropriate ways to deal with our mob, to understand the issues that are important for aboriginal people, to engage with our people and to know what a priority this is and the process that needs to unfold.”

Dr O’Mara said highlighting the right support programs was essential to achieving post-graduate parity.

“You could have all the support structures in the world in place, they are not necessarily going to be appropriate for aboriginal students,” Dr O’Mara said.

“So we need to be a bit more creative about how we do that support.

“Getting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into studying medicine is one thing but getting the graduations at the other end is the really important thing.

“If you’re just looking at numbers, we make up 2.5 per cent of the population but of the medical workforce we make up about .3 per cent.

“If you factor in that our people are the sickest people in this country, we need to be higher than parity in the percentages.”

By Daniel Fraser
21 August, 2012

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