AMA turns up heat on training places
The AMA has once again been turning up the heat on governments to ensure training places.
Reports from South Australia last month suggested that up to 22 locally trained domestic graduates will miss out on an internship from 2017, rising to as many as 39 by 2018. Rather than scrambling to ensure the ongoing development of a locally trained medical workforce, it appears that South Australia are instead going to breach a 2006 COAG agreement, potentially leaving these graduates completely without jobs.
While intern crisis is not a new concept to anyone in medical training, we have largely avoided the controversy with all graduates eventually matched to an internship with time. This was helped in part by the development of the Commonwealth Medical Internships program that allowed for a further 100 international medical students to join our workforce yearly.
While 22 may seem like a relatively small number from the 3700 medical graduates we graduate each year, it is the precedent set that is of the greatest concern.
We as a profession and a society have made a significant investment in the training of these 22 graduates. Without an internship, this investment is not only a waste of talent; it is also cheating the Australian people. While we are still in need of doctors in Australia, we cannot afford to waste the significant investment we make in any of our medical graduates each year.
Logically, by short-changing the Australian public of interns, we are contributing to the doctor shortage. The work from the now disbanded Health Workforce Australia highlighted the need to ensure that all locally trained graduates can access trianing places if we are to meet future community need. If doctors in training are left without the opportunity to progress to specialist practitioners, the intern crisis and training crisis will simply become a doctor crisis.
The South Australian Government needs to be held account over its failure to commit to providing medical internships to domestic graduates from local medical schools. Additionally, the AMA has called on all State and Territories to re-affirm past COAG commitments and commit to developing a robust, locally trained medical workforce.
Medical training needs to be a priority agenda item not only for our Federal leaders, but also for all State and Territories. Let’s fix the doctor crisis before we are in the middle of it.