The intern year - Is it fit for purpose?

11 Mar 2015

From the Chair

Hello everyone, 

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS to all of you who have recently sat specialty exams!  Enjoy that after-exam glow and make sure you take some time for yourself.  For those of you in the midst of studying, good luck!  Keep going, it will all be worth it in the end.  

This month, let me ask you to reflect back on your internship.  Do you remember how you felt when you started your internship compared to when you finished it?  Did you enjoy your internship?  Did you feel supported?  Do you feel as though your internship prepared you for your future medical career?  Would you change it if you could?  

These are some of the questions that I have been asking DiTs around Australia as the Council of Australian Governments Health Council’s independent National Review of Medical Intern Training commences.  The review is designed to examine the current internship model and consider reforms to support transition into practice.  It will examine whether the current model remains valid and fit for purpose and look at the effectiveness of the internship year in producing doctors with appropriate skills and competencies to meet national health care needs. The review will also look at the part that a person’s internship plays in supporting their career decisions and how this may be better streamlined. 

The internship has played a part in all of our medical careers and AMA CDT feel strongly that the maintenance of quality medical training in early prevocational years is paramount and must not be compromised.  We feel that the generalist medical training that the current internship model provides is a fundamental part of our continuing medical education and we feel as though this should be protected.  As the review looks at the current model and discusses where the modern day internship may head, we continue to advocate for accredited terms in each of medicine, surgery and emergency medical care.  We also feel that any competency-based assessment should complement, but not replace, the apprenticeship model of time-based internship training.  

Written submissions on this topic and the published discussion paper are invited and consultations are being held in every state as you read this.  We want to hear from DiTs about what they felt their internship was to them.  Can we make it better?  Can we help you feel more supported or help you get to where you want to be faster?  Can we change anything to improve our health care system? 

Personally, I loved my internship and I am very grateful that I was offered the opportunity to develop into a junior doctor in a supported and well supervised environment.  I was able to ask ‘silly’ questions and I was able to take my time learning what I was and was not comfortable with.  I believe that my individual experience made me a better doctor today.  I hear this story over and over again from DiTs I encounter from around the country but I also hear other, much graver stories and we want to hear from all of you. 

To have your say download the discussion paper today ( or contact me at

Happy March, 

Dr Danika Thiemt

Chair, AMA Council of Doctors in Training