The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) has warned that a nationwide shortfall in medical internships will leave recently graduated doctors unemployed. This will most significantly affect rural Australia and areas of health workforce need, which continue to suffer from a lack of access to medical practitioners and health services.
As the first internship offers are made this week under a cloud of uncertainty for many prospective junior doctors, AMSA President, Elise Buisson, said major investment is needed from the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to drive expansion of internship placements in non-traditional settings.
“A crucial step in resolving the internship crisis will be investing in placements in non-traditional settings. An example of this is the Commonwealth Medical Internships (CMI) Initiative, which is an innovative Federal government program that provides an extra 100 internship positions each year,” Ms Buisson said.
“As recommended by the Review of Medical Intern Training released by the COAG Health Council in 2015, expansion of internship placements into appropriate private, not for profit and community settings is needed to increase the system’s overall capacity.
“Without an internship, medical graduates are unable to continue the necessary training to become the practising doctors that Australia needs and we will still have junior doctors missing out.”
Australia lost up to 40 of junior doctors earlier this year due to the lack of internships, despite an AMSA survey showing that 95 per cent of students without an internship would consider practice in a rural area, where demand for doctors is higher.
“These young doctors want to work in the Australian health care system – to give back to the communities that trained them, to give back to rural Australia and to our areas of need. Without an internship, they’ll have no opportunity to do that,” Ms Buisson said.
“We need a sustainable health workforce where continuing funding and expansion of internship positions is matched with expansion of vocational training positions, especially in rural, regional and remote Australia.”
AMSA is calling upon the Federal and State governments to make the expansion of medical internship positions a key health priority this election year.