Medical workforce and training - 2019
The AMA has revised its Position Statement on Medical Workforce and Training – 2019 to address the two most important issues affecting the sustainability of the medical workforce currently – capacity and distribution.
Over the past decade, the number of doctors in Australia has increased significantly, driven by a significant rise in the number of medical schools and medical graduates. The number of doctors in Australia (2015) sits just above the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average at 3.5 per 1000 population (compared to UK 2.8 per 1000 and USA 2.6 per 1000 population). Record growth in medical graduate numbers well above the OECD average has raised concerns about a potential medical workforce oversupply in the years ahead.
Notwithstanding this, distribution of the medical workforce remains an issue both geographically and by specialty. Australia continues to rely heavily on overseas trained doctors to fill workforce gaps, particularly in rural and remote areas. Some medical specialties are in undersupply, with others in over-supply, especially in metropolitan areas. This is exacerbated by a shortage of vocational training places, increased competition for entry into vocational training and exit block for employment of new fellows.
Delivering a medical workforce to meet future community requirements for health care requires the focus of medical workforce policy and planning to shift from increasing medical school places towards giving medical students and postgraduate doctors more opportunities to train in rural areas, targeted increases in postgraduate training capacity in the geographic areas and specialties where they are needed, and on improving the distribution of the medical workforce.