ACT Government sinks medical training crisis to a new low

Media release
22 May 2013

ACT Government sinks medical training crisis to a new low

The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) is calling on the ACT Government’s Chief and Health Minister, Katy Gallagher MLA, to reverse ACT Health’s recent decision that will inhibit the ability of young doctors to work interstate.

The ACT Government is the most recent jurisdiction to change its system of allocating internships. In addition to prioritising international students studying at the Australian National University Medical School over domestic students studying interstate, including those who completed Year 12 in the ACT, they are now trying to restrict all Australian National University Medical School graduates from applying to other jurisdictions.

“The ACT Government has gone much further than the Victorian, Western Australian and Tasmanian governments,” AMSA President, Mr Ben Veness said.

“The ACT Government has told local graduating medical students that if they merely apply for a position interstate, they may lose the opportunity to work in the ACT.

“This is coercive, anti-competitive, and exploitative of our future doctors. Students have told me they feel bullied.

“ACT Health claim to be seeking graduates who are committed to working in the ACT, yet this year they have halved the length of contract they are offering new doctors, from two years to one. They are sending mixed messages and students are distrustful.

“These changes do nothing to increase the number of doctors working in Australian communities, they merely limit the mobility of young doctors.

“The State, Territory and Federal governments need to collaborate to increase the number of medical internships in Australia. The governments need to allocate these internships efficiently and consistently across the country.

“Internships are mandatory for doctors to complete in order to enter specialty training and work independently in the community. Without cooperation, and the creation of enough internships, Australia will lose doctors overseas. During a shortage of doctors, that’s unacceptable.”

The Victorian Government last year changed its allocation of internships to preference all local international students ahead of interstate Australian students.

This year, Western Australia made changes to preference local international students ahead of interstate Australian students who did not complete their high school education in Western Australia. Tasmania allocates internships to Tasmanian international students before any interstate students, and treats interstate students equally without regard to their residency status.

Media contact:
Steve Hurwitz
0405 419 416
publicrelations@amsa.org.au
Follow AMSA on Twitter: http://twitter.com/yourAMSA

No charge to apply for internships in NSW

AMSA is pleased to confirm that there will be no charge to apply for an internship in New South Wales (NSW) for 2014.

This week, the Health Education and Training Institute (HETI), which allocates and accredits internships in NSW, announced all domestic students graduating from NSW medical schools would have to pay $110 if they wished to apply for an internship in NSW, while anyone else would have to pay $429 (including domestic students graduating from interstate medical schools and all international students).

The AMSA National Executive believed the concept of charging a fee to apply for a job was unfair. All employers incur recruitment costs. It seemed like a really dangerous precedent, and in the worst case scenario, a way of entrenching unemployment and limiting socioeconomic mobility in a society. We are not aware of any other jurisdiction that charges such fees to apply for internships, and have been told that Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria definitely don’t.

AMSA approached the CEO of HETI and discussed this with the Medical Director at some length. Subsequently, HETI contacted us again to say that they had reconsidered the issue, and while they still think charging a fee might be a good idea, they have decided not to do so in 2013. In addition, the bond that has previously been charged to interstate applicants will also be scrapped this year. The removal of the new fee alone will save Australian medical students about $200,000 this year, which we are very happy about! AMSA is grateful to HETI for reconsidering the new fee, and for their removal of the bond system. We also appreciate the promptness with which they responded to our inquiry.

The big issue regarding the quantity of internships for 2014 remains to be solved, however AMSA looks forwards to continuing to work with HETI (and others) on this, especially after they’ve demonstrated that they are willing to listen to student concerns.