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Rural Medical School Announcement a Political Fix that Misses the Mark

By | Tuesday, May 8th, 2018
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Media Release
8 May 2018

Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand says that the government is missing the point with its proposal to redistribute 2% of government-funded medical school places every three years.

“We have long supported and worked towards training more doctors from, in and for rural areas, but it’s the training that happens after medical schools that’s the big issue now” said President of Medical Deans, Professor Richard Murray.

“More medical graduates than ever want to pursue a career in rural practice, but at the moment the vast majority are forced to move to the city for up to 8 years to do their specialty training. This is when we lose them” he said. “Rural medical education must be joined up with regional training to enable graduates to become the doctors so sorely needed in rural Australia.  The announcement of a commitment to developing rural generalist doctors and an increase in rural GP training places is welcome, as is more experience for recent graduates in rural general practice. But it is vital to remember that rural and regional communities also need paediatricians, general physicians, psychiatrists, general surgeons, and other specialist doctors with generalist skills. The priority effort and investment has to apply to all this.”

“This policy might provide a political solution, but it’s risking the gains we’ve made by taking resources and focus away from where change is needed.  And that’s on ensuring that medical graduates can continue living and working in rural and regional areas whilst they complete their medical training.”

The government has announced that medical schools will need to put in competitive bids to keep their places, irrespective of whether they already have a successful regionally-based training program. It has also committed capital funding to the select group of universities involved.

According to Professor Murray, this policy has been developed with no discussion with Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand.  “There is a real potential for this policy to lead to some very perverse outcomes, and the lack of transparency over how these ‘competitive bids’ will be judged is a significant concern” he said.

“There is a risk that future announcements about medical school places might be informed more by political considerations, rather than where doctors are needed,” Professor Murray said. “It is also of concern to our members that medical schools with runs on the board in producing rural doctors have missed out on an opportunity to bid openly for much-needed capital funds.”

Professor Murray reiterated Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand’s ongoing commitment to increasing the numbers of doctors in the bush and urged government to work with Medical Deans and others to develop a more effective and integrated approach to rural medical training.  “The answers are there but we need leadership, courage and real collaboration to make it happen.”

Contact:               Helen Craig, CEO Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand

                                +61 2 8084 6557        0449 109 721

Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand Inc. (Medical Deans) is the peak body representing professional entry-level medical education, training and research in Australia and New Zealand.  The organisation’s membership comprises the Deans of Australia’s 21 medical schools and the two New Zealand schools.  As well as having an extensive representative and advocacy role in the advancement of health and education, Medical Deans auspice and manage a number of significant projects in relation to the medical workforce, including the Medical Schools Outcomes Database, Indigenous health through the LIME Network, graduate competencies and benchmarking, clinical supervision, students health and well-being, and social accountability.

 

Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand – NEW CEO

By | Monday, February 5th, 2018
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After a rigorous selection process, Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand have appointed Ms Helen Craig to the position of CEO of Medical Deans.

Helen has a strong and extensive background in leadership, health policy, advocacy and senior management. She is currently employed as Manager, Strategic Policy and Advocacy with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP). Prior to this role, Helen was employed as Chief Executive Officer with the Rural Health Education Foundation, a non-profit health education organisation focused on supporting rural and remote healthcare professionals. Helen was also previously employed in the pharmaceutical industry (including heading up policy and government relations for the Australian operations) and in digital technology and software development.

Helen’s experience in a membership based organisation and understanding of health workforce issues, particularly the needs of regional and rural Australia, and Indigenous health will be a great asset to Medical Deans, as will be her stakeholder management skills and wide network. Helen will commence on 5 March 2018 and Medical Deans looks forward to working with Helen to advance Medical Deans agenda in what will be a busy and challenging year.

Medical Deans Welcomes Australia’s First National Rural Health Commissioner

By | Tuesday, June 27th, 2017
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Media Release
26 June, 2017

Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand have welcomed the Australian Government’s appointment of Australia’s first National Rural Health Commissioner, who has been described as “a champion for rural health.”

Australians living in rural and remote areas have poorer health outcomes, including higher levels of disease and shorter lifespans, than people living in major cities.

The National Rural Health Commissioner will be an advocate for the improvement of rural health policy and practices across universities, health services and all levels of government. The Commissioner will also work to increase access to training for doctors throughout rural, regional and remote communities.

Medical students with rural backgrounds are more likely to become doctors in rural locations.

More than 28% of commencing domestic medical students currently come from a rural background. However, only 21% of doctors are currently practicing in regional, remote and rural areas, where an estimated 33% of the Australian population live. This illustrates the maldistribution of the medical workforce across these locations.

Carmel Tebbutt, CEO of Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand, said the National Rural Health Commissioner role will provide the opportunity for a greater emphasis on addressing the medical workforce maldistribution.

“Each year, medical schools are taking in larger proportions of students from rural backgrounds, and over the past decade the number of medical graduates has nearly doubled. The real challenge now is to provide appropriate vocational training to ensure these graduates translate into doctors in the specialities and locations where they are needed the most.”

Ms Tebbutt said Medical Deans will continue to advocate for effective policy to ensure better health outcomes for rural Australians.

“There are no shortage of issues for the National Rural Health Commissioner to address and Medical Deans looks forward to working with the Commissioner, once appointed, to advance a national agenda for rural health.”

Further Information: Carmel Tebbutt, CEO Medical Deans, 02 8084 6557, 0437 476 267

Regional Hubs to Train Doctors in the Regions for the Regions

By | Thursday, April 13th, 2017
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Media Release
13 April, 2017

The Regional Health Training Hubs announcement today by the Australian Government has been welcomed by Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand. The 26 training hubs will assist medical graduates to move through the pipeline, training specialist doctors and GP’s in the regions, for the regions.

Professor Richard Murray, acting President of Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand, said the investment in the new training hubs will mean regions are more fully involved in training the specialist doctors that regional and remote communities need.

Medical Deans have long advocated for a flipped model of joined up, regionally based specialist training with a city rotation to provide greater opportunities for young doctors to undertake their specialist training in regional and rural locations and remain in these areas.

“The number of graduating doctors in Australia has almost tripled over the past 15 years, yet what we have seen is graduates piling up in the cities, looking for the city-based specialist training jobs.

This announcement builds on the success of the rural clinical schools program and will allow many more medical graduates to train as specialist doctors and GPs where they are most needed – in regional and remote Australia” Professor Murray said.

Students who undertake a rural placement express high levels of satisfaction and the most recent data from a survey of final year medical students indicate 36.5% have a preference for practicing outside a capital city.

Professor Murray said “Rural clinical schools and regional medical schools have been delivering graduates who would like to live and work in regional and remote Australia. What has been missing is the opportunity for them to train as specialists and GPs in the areas that most need them.”

“Australia has a record number of doctors for its population, but regional Australia is forced to rely on importing doctors from overseas. It is time that the Commonwealth, state and territory governments committed to a revolution in the further training of medical graduates, one that sees much more specialist training based in regional Australia, with a city rotation as needed and the Regional Health Training Hubs are a welcome first step” he said.

 

Medical Deans Welcomes Government Commitment on Medical Workforce Needs in Regional and Rural Australia

By | Monday, December 19th, 2016
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Media Release
14 December, 2016

Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand today welcomed the Australian Government’s commitment to addressing the maldistribution of medical professionals across regional and rural Australia, announced by Assistant Minister Gillespie.

Professor Nicholas Glasgow, Medical Dean’s President said the lack of medical services is having an impact on the health of regional and rural Australians and agreed the priority for medical workforce training is specialist training opportunities in regional and rural Australia.

“Medical Dean’s have long advocated for a flipped model of joined up, regionally-based specialist training with a city rotation to provide greater opportunities for young doctors to undertake their specialist training in regional and rural locations and remain in these locations.”

The Government has also indicated they will undertake an assessment of the number and distribution of medical school places and medical schools in Australia and Medical Dean’s looks forward to contributing to this assessment.

In 2015 the number of domestic medical school graduates in Australia was 3055. The number of domestic students commencing medical school in 2016 was 3215. More than 28% of commencing domestic medical students have a rural background.

Professor Glasgow said

“The establishment of rural clinical schools has greatly expanded the number of medical students experiencing a rural clinical placement. Students who undertake a rural placement report high levels of satisfaction and the most recent data from a survey of final year medical students indicate 36.5% have a preference for practicing outside a capital city.

The rollout of the Regional Training Hubs in 2017 will further assist in retaining medical graduates in regional areas.

The real challenge in meeting the medical workforce needs of rural and regional Australia is to ensure the increase in medical graduates translates into doctors in the specialties and locations they are most needed and Medical Deans looks forward to working with the Government to achieve this.”

Further Information: Carmel Tebbutt, CEO Medical Deans, 0437 476 267, 02 8084 6557

Letter to SMH Editor on Bullying and Harassment

By | Monday, November 14th, 2016
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Wollongong Hosts Medical Deans Annual Conference 2016

By | Monday, October 24th, 2016
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Media Release
11 October 2016

The University of Wollongong is hosting medical educators from across Australia and New Zealand at the Medical Deans Annual Conference this week -more than 70 participants are coming together to discuss key issues in medical education and research.

Medical Deans is the peak professional body representing entry level medical education, training and research in Australia and New Zealand and each year a different university hosts the annual conference.

Conference delegates will hear addresses from Professor Paul Wellings, Vice Chancellor, University of Wollongong, Grattan Institute Director, Dr Stephen Duckett and science broadcaster, Robyn Williams. Key sessions include:

  •      + Research Challenges: Funding, Impact and Supporting Clinical Academic Pathways
  •      + Increasing the Number of Indigenous Doctors – Successes and Challenges
  •      + The Impact of Technology on Medical Education

The conference also includes an Indigenous Knowledge Initiative where Medical Deans will learn about the health needs of the Illawarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and discuss how medical education can contribute to improved health outcomes for Indigenous people.

Professor Nicholas Glasgow, President, Medical Deans said:

“Medical schools across Australia and New Zealand share many common challenges whether it be supporting the next generation of clinical academics, addressing rural medical workforce shortages or finding better ways to engage with our students. Conference delegates will hear presentations from experts and share knowledge and experiences.”

Professor Alison Jones, Executive Dean, Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health, University of Wollongong said the University of Wollongong was thrilled to be hosting the Medical Deans Annual Conference this year.

“This is a great opportunity to showcase our area and the University of Wollongong’s commitment to excellence in research and teaching. Delegates will also tour the Innovation Campus to view first hand this exciting facility.”

The Medical Deans Annual Conference commences at 9am on Thursday 13 October at the Novotel Wollongong Northbeach Hotel.

 

 

Survey Reveals Unique Snapshot of Future Doctors

By | Tuesday, October 11th, 2016
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Media Release

9 October 2016

A comprehensive survey of more than 2000 newly minted medical graduates, provides a unique snapshot of the origins, dreams, expectations and frustrations of Australia’s future doctors.

The questionnaire, conducted by the Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand and to be released at the annual conference, was sent to all of Australia’s 19 medical schools prior to the graduation of their final year medical students in 2015. The survey asked questions about demographics, birthplace, career goals, rural versus metropolitan origin and intended residence.

The study found that

+ over 83% of medical graduates are interested in becoming involved in teaching

+ there has been an increase in those for whom the financial benefits of being a doctor has no impact on their preferred area of medicine as a career;

+ the number of graduates who have a partner has increased from nearly 41% in 2011 to 49% in 2015

+ In 2015 36.5% of medical graduates indicated their first preference region of future practice was outside a capital city compared to 32% in 2011. In 2015 over 18% nominated a major urban centre such as Wollongong, Geelong, Cairns or Gosford, 12% a regional city or large town and 6% a smaller town or community

The Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand have been collecting data on demographic, education and career intentions of medical students since 2008, gathering a dataset of more than 30,000 participants. This is the second year the Deans has conducted a single on line survey of final year students.

Professor Nicholas Glasgow, President of Medical Deans, commented that a standout trend from the survey is the “consistently high percentage of final year medical graduates interested in teaching (83%) and/or research (62%). Academics or clinicians undertaking teaching and research are crucial in developing the next generation of doctors. It is a positive sign that so many graduates envisage contributing both to the education of students and to evidence based healthcare research.

A key challenge for policy makers and Government is to convert the interest medical graduates have in teaching and research into a career choice.  This requires continued investment in research and the establishment of integrated clinical academic training pathways.”

According to the CEO of Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand, Carmel Tebbutt, “the data collected provides an important tool for the planning of future generations of doctors. Since 2008 the Annual Medical Students Workforce Survey has provided a range of information from demographics, satisfaction, rural versus metropolitan origin and destination and other information that are crucial for the development and planning for all Australia’s medical workforce,” she said.

“Importantly the Medical Student Outcome Database, provides medical schools with invaluable feedback on both what their graduates are like, and their future career intentions. The MSOD can help answer important questions such as how to improve the distribution of the medical workforce in rural and regional Australia.”

In detail the study reveals some interesting facts such as:

+ In 2015 36.5% of medical graduates indicated their first preference region of future practice was outside a capital city with 18.7% nominating a major urban centre such as Wollongong, Geelong, Cairns or Gosford, 11.8% a regional city or large town such as Alice Springs, Dubbo, Bunbury or Launceston, 4.2% a smaller town (10 000 – 24 999 population size) and 1.8% a small community

+ 31 % of medical students come from outside capital city, with 11.5% from major urban centres, 7.8% from a regional city or large town, 4.2% from a smaller town and 7.5% from a small community

+ The bulk of medical students, not surprisingly, come from Australia (64%) with the next biggest group coming from Canada (4.4%) followed by Malaysia at 4%. The US and India provide almost an equivalent number of students at 1.6% and 1.8% respectively

+ The top four intended areas of future practice have remained the same over the past five years: adult medicine/internal medicine/physician; general practice; surgery; and paediatrics and child health

+ The number of graduates registering an interest in research remains relatively consistent over the past years at around 60% plus with a five year trend pointing to an increase

+ More than 83% of survey participants who had completed a prior degree or certificate had done so in the fields of Science, Medical Science or Health/Allied Health while 9.4% had completed a postgraduate degree

+ The level of satisfaction for all medical school programs has remained constant since 2011 with around 75% either satisfied or very satisfied with their medical course

+ Since 2011 there has been an increase (from 18.7% to 24.2% in 2015) in proportion of graduates who say that financial prospects have no influence at all on their preferred area of medicine as a career, while the percentage of those for whom financial prospects are very important has remained relatively steady at around 25%

+ For the first time, more than half (53.6%) of graduates reported that the financial costs of medical school/education debts did not influence their preferred area of medicine as a career, an increase of 5% over the previous year (these 2 tables refer to the influence on their preferred area of future practice of medicine)

+ However more than one third of those surveyed said that the number of years required to complete training had a significant impact on their choice of preferred area of medicine while those that said this had no impact rose by almost 5% since 2011

The MSOD and Data Linkage Project is funded by the Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Health. The Medical Schools Outcomes Database National Data Report 2016 was prepared with the assistance of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

 

International Recognition for Leaders in Indigenous Education Network

By | Wednesday, June 8th, 2016
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Media Release
8 June 2016

The Leaders in Indigenous Medical Education (LIME) Network has received a prestigious international award – the ASPIRE Award for Excellence in Social Accountability. The Aspire Award is developed under the auspices of the Association for Medical Education in Europe, the leading international association for medical education.

The ASPIRE Award recognises medical, dental and veterinary schools that excel in assessment of students, student engagement, social accountability of the school and faculty development. This is the first time the international award has been presented to a program representing a collective of schools.

The LIME Network supports collaboration between medical schools in Australia and New Zealand to advance the development, delivery and evaluation of quality Indigenous health initiatives.

The reviewers highlighted that the LIME Network Program and its members clearly demonstrate a strong commitment to social accountability, noting that it is ‘[a]n impressive bi-national initiative with a focus on a topic of national (and indeed) global priority, within a clear construct of social accountability. Key outcomes and impact have been, and continue to be achieved, through a model that is inclusive, participatory, and community oriented.’

The review panel also observed ‘the LIME Network operates to bind all medical schools together creating greater impact than could be achieved by any alone, or by any smaller grouping.’

Professor Shaun Ewen, LIME Network Project Lead, said that ‘the Network has contributed to transforming the future Australian health workforce. Indigenous leadership, better trained physicians, more diversity through the recruitment and graduation of more Indigenous medical students. Indigenous people taking their rightful place.’

Professor Nicholas Glasgow, President of Medical Deans congratulated the LIME Network: ‘This is a great achievement for LIME Network members, particularly the LIME Reference Group and secretariat. It is a tribute to the innovation evident in the field of Indigenous health and medical education made possible through their collaborative work.’

The LIME Network is a project of Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand, and receives funding from the Australian Government Department of Health. The Network is dedicated to ensuring the quality and effectiveness of teaching and learning of Indigenous health in medical education, as well as best practice in the recruitment and graduation of Indigenous medical students.

Contact:

Carmel Tebbutt, CEO Medical Deans, +61 2 8084 6557, +61 437 476 267 or admin@medicaldeans.org.au

Odette Mazel, Research Fellow and Program Manager, Leaders in Indigenous Medial Education (LIME) Network, +61 3 83449160 or omazel@unimelb.edu.au

Specialist Training Needed to Keep Young Doctors in the Bush

By | Friday, May 27th, 2016
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Media Release
27 May 2016

Medical Deans, the peak body for entry level medical education, again calls for the Federal Government to invest in viable, regional post graduate training programs to address rural medical workforce shortages.

Medical Deans President, Professor Nicholas Glasgow said he was pleased to see Minister Ley’s comments in the Bendigo Advertiser which showed the Government understood that simply increasing the number of medical school training places will not provide regional and rural Australia with the medical workforce they need.

Bendigo Advertiser 20  May 2016

Health Minister Sussan Ley said the government had been advised against creating any more medical training places. 

“We will go on talking about it, but at the moment my experts and the Australian Medical Association are telling me we don’t need any new medical training places in Australia,” she said.

She said the number of student undergraduate medical training places doubled between 2008 and 2016.

Professor Glasgow said “More post graduate training opportunities are needed so medical graduates can stay in rural areas for their specialist training. We have more than doubled the output of our medical schools over the last 15 years and there are now significant numbers of medical students and interns in rural and regional areas.

However the path to becoming a fully fledged doctor is a long one and many young doctors end up back in our cities in order to complete their specialist training”.

Professor Glasgow said that scarce resources needed to be allocated across the training pipeline where they could make the most difference. He noted that the proposed University of Newcastle Central Coast medical school involved a transfer of Commonwealth supported places from the University of Newcastle campus.

“The growth of rural clinical schools means medical students can experience high quality rural placements. They have been successful in increasing the number of medical students with a rural background – since 2003 the number of medical students from a rural background has increased from 20% of commencing students to nearly 26% in 2015. It is now time to address the next disconnect in the rural training system by enabling graduates interested in rural medical careers to stay in rural areas while they finish their training” .

Contact: Carmel Tebbutt, CEO Medical Deans, 02 8084 6557, 0437 476 267 or admin@medicaldeans.org.au

 

 

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