Call to govt to find 500 internships
PRESSURE is mounting on state and federal governments to find a solution to the developing shortage of intern positions for medical graduates, which will see an estimated 500 graduates miss out on further training this year.
The AMA has written to Health Minister Tanya Plibersek ahead of discussions today between federal and state health department officials about how to address the issue, and association president Dr Steve Hambleton said “strong leadership” was required.
Dr Hambleton said recent forecasts estimated a shortage of about 300 intern posts in NSW and Victoria alone next year.
“It is a key issue for all governments to ensure that there are sufficient internships for all medical graduates,” Dr Hambleton said.
“The recent Health Workforce 2025 report… highlights that, to meet community need, Australia needs to find training places for the growing number of students graduating from medical school – covering the intern year and beyond – including specialist training posts.
“The Commonwealth has commendably lifted the number of medical graduates since 2004 to meet community need [but] now it is up to the Commonwealth to work with the states and territories to provide these graduates with access to quality intern training places.”
Dr Hambleton said unless something was done thousands of junior doctors would not be able to achieve specialist qualification and the community would not realise the full benefit of its investment in increased medical school places.
“Finding a solution will require strong leadership from the federal government and strong cooperation between the states and territories to do their bit to ensure that community access to quality medical care is maintained and improved to meet growing demand,” Dr Hambleton said.
Meanwhile, the Australian Medical Students’ Association has gathered more than 5000 signatures on a petition calling on Australian governments to “train the doctors Australia needs”.
The petition letter predicted almost 500 medical graduates from Australian medical schools would be unable to obtain an internship in Australia, and therefore be unable to work as doctors in underserved Australian communities, this year.
“We urge you to commit to train the workforce needed to address the rural workforce shortage and provide for Australia’s population health needs by ensuring that, this year, there is an internship available for every medical graduate in Australia,” the petition letter said.
“This would represent a wasted investment in training future doctors and lost opportunity to address the needs of communities who have inadequate access to medical services.”