AMSA: New medical schools will not solve workforce shortages
The Australian Medical Students’ Association is concerned by the Government’s announcement yesterday that it will support 50 medical student places to open a new medical school at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital.
The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) is the peak representative body of Australia’s 17,000 medical students. AMSA calls for increased funding of long-term regional specialty training places, rather than the establishment of new medical schools to address the current medical workforce maldistribution.
The Government’s announcement comes with no detail as to how exactly these places are to come about, however it is believed there will be no further increases to the number of Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs). It is AMSA’s understanding that support for the new medical school bypassed regular departmental approval processes.
AMSA President and local Sunshine Coast medical student Rob Thomas said: “With government modelling forecasting an oversupply of 7,000 doctors by 2030, AMSA also believes that it would be irresponsible for the places on the Sunshine Coast to come from new international places.
“The reasoning behind today’s announcement was that the new medical school at the Sunshine Coast will address local workforce shortages. However, according to the government’s own modelling, the Sunshine Coast is not in workforce shortage or a regional area. Internships on the Sunshine Coast continue to be oversubscribed.
“This is a solution in search of a problem. The real problem that we face is the disparity in the distribution of doctors between metropolitan and rural and regional areas.
“A key reason why this disparity exists is that those interested in becoming doctors in rural areas are forced back to the city for most, if not all, of their training”.
Jenna Mewburn, AMSA Rural Health Co-Chair and a final year medical student studying in Wagga Wagga said: “I’m a rural background student who wants to live and work rurally in the future, but at present, I will likely have to return to the city to pursue specialty training.
“This will likely fall at a time where I’m looking to lay down roots, making it increasingly difficult to return rurally in the future.
“Initiatives throughout medical school already exist, including rural origin entry quotas and rural clinical school placements. While there is evidence to support the success of these programs in contributing to the rural workforce, what we need is more quality specialty training places to be funded nationwide.
“Evidence shows that spending money on rural training positions will put doctors in our hospitals immediately and will help retain graduates who will otherwise have to work in metropolitan centres. New medical schools, whether in rural areas or not, are not going to address this issue.”
AMSA in conjunction with its Rural Health committee will continue to advocate for increased speciality training places as a more effective alternative to new medical schools.
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Published: 28 Apr 2017