e-dit: Issue 89


From the Chair

Australia’s ignominious history in regards to workforce planning took a step towards recovery last week with the release of the landmark report Health Workforce 2025.

In terms of the training pipeline, HW2025 predicts a shortfall in registrar posts of 404 by 2015 and 1,265 by 2025. This means that a considerable bottleneck at the point of entry into vocational training is imminent. The other major findings of the report are summarised below.

HW2025 demands a response from Health Ministers, and our challenge now is to ensure that we get a satisfactory one. They have indicated that reform is necessary, but how that agenda will be progressed remains unclear.

In the immediate future, governments (with advice from medical colleges) have their work cut out for them in identifying and funding the required number of vocational training positions. We have already started thinking about how the AMA can report on progress against the targets implied by HW2025.

The report also has implications for those proposing new medical schools. The predicted lack of training positions certainly doesn’t help their cause.

In some respects, HW2025 poses more questions than it answers. But at least we have a blueprint for training a health workforce that is capable of meeting the healthcare needs of all Australians.

On that note, it’s my time to sign off as your monthly correspondent. It’s been an honour holding the Deputy Chair and Chair positions and I thank members for the opportunity. Federal Council will ratify the appointment of the next Chair when it meets in a few weeks. I suspect that doctors in training will find themselves in very capable hands.



Health Workforce 2025 highlights shortage of training positions

The first two volumes of Health Workforce 2025 (HW2025) were released on 27 April. The report modelled a number of different workforce scenarios, with the baseline scenario suggesting that by 2025 Australia will have progressively moved to a medical workforce deficit of 2700 doctors. The report also shows that Australia is likely to continue to be very reliant on International Medical Graduates. These numbers pale in comparison to the predicted shortfall of nurses. The report suggests that, Australia will need 109,409 more nurses by 2025 on the baseline scenario.

As mentioned in the Chair’s report above, HW2025 also predicts a burgeoning bottleneck at the entrance to vocational training. It shows that the increases in medical student numbers since 2004 are having a positive workforce impact and that there is no real case to justify the opening of new medical schools, particularly in light of the lack of prevocational and vocational training places.

In response to the report, the AMA has called on the Government to convene a Council of Australian Governments meeting specifically to reach agreement with the States and Territories on boosting pre-vocational and specialist medical training places in line with HW2025 projections. More specific modelling of each medical speciality is expected to be released in June.

Read the AMA media release on the report and Volume 1 of the report itself on the Health Workforce Australia web-site. You may also be interested in reading some commentary from The Australian.

AMA Leadership Development Dinner: book now!

Have you booked a ticket to the 2012 AMA National Conference and Leadership Development Dinner (LDD)? Don’t miss out on attending this once a year event, which promises to be thought provoking and inspiring. 2011 Australian of the Year Simon McKeon (Chairman of Macquarie Group’s Melbourne office, CSIRO and Business for Millennium Development) is the guest speaker at this year’s dinner, which will be held at Chapter House, 197 Flinders Lane, Melbourne on Friday, 25 May 2012 from 7:30pm until late. The cost is $65 for students and $75 for doctors in training. Go to the AMA National Conference website to register.

Don't miss out on this special offer for DiTs to attend National Conference for $500. That's half price! Register now

“Like us” on Facebook

The AMA Council of Doctors in Training has created a new Doctors in Training (DIT) Network page at www.facebook.com/amacdt. Feel free to contribute to the discussion there.

New plan to bolster the rural medical workforce

The AMA recently released its position statement on Regional/Rural Workforce Initiatives, which sets out a practical achievable plan to attract doctors and medical students to live and work in rural and regional Australia.

The statement highlights five key priority areas for national policy development and urges the Government to:

  • provide a dedicated and quality training pathway with the right skill mix to ensure GPs are adequately trained to work in rural areas;
  • provide a realistic and sustainable work environment with flexibility, including locum relief;
  • provide family support that includes spousal opportunities/employment, educational opportunities for children’s education, subsidy for housing/relocation and/or tax relief;
  • provide financial incentives including rural loadings to ensure competitive remuneration; and
  • provide a working environment that would allow quality training and supervision.

The Position Statement also makes clear the AMA’s views on the Bonded Medical Places program, and its support for the HECS Reimbursement Sheme. Further, it highlights the significant ongoing concern at the way in which the Australian Standard Geographical Classification – Remoteness Areas (ASGC-RA) is being applied to determine the distribution of financial incentives.

Guidelines and resources on prescribing drugs of addiction

The AMA Therapeutics Committee has developed a ‘one-stop-shop’ webpage for AMA members seeking advice on prescribing drugs of addiction. The page includes links to:

  • the latest independent drug information about opioids and treatments provided by the National Prescribing Service;
  • the ‘Dr Shopper Line’ operated by the Department of Human Services;
  • the RACGP guidelines on prescribing benzodiazepines;
  • steps to follow when ending the doctor-patient relationship produced by MDA National;
  • statistical information on pharmocotherapy for opioid dependence produced by AIHW; and
  • State and Territory government funded drugs of dependence units.

View the Prescribing drugs of addiction support page on the AMA website (Remember you need to log in with your member details first).

A direct link to the page is also located on the AMA members' home page in the box titled AMA information and resources.

Comments are welcome. Just use the section at the bottom of the page.

Survey follows doctors as they build their careers

Did you know that 34% of medical students who ranked surgery as their preferred area of practice in medical school changed their preference to specialist areas such as anaesthesia and emergency medicine by the time they entered their intern year? Such is the information we can access through the Medical Schools Outcomes Database and Longitudinal Tracking (MSOD) Project.

The MSOD Project provides unique insights into the needs and aspirations of medical students and junior doctors. All students and doctors are encouraged to complete the surveys to provide the most reliable dataset possible.

The MSOD Project publishes bi-annual newsletters to provide participants, stakeholders, medical schools and other interested parties with updates of project activities. Read the latest newsletter here.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Please tell us what you think.

The AMA CPD Tracking service is available to all medical professionals to help manage CPD recording requirements. This service is available free to AMA members and at a small cost to non members.

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In this Issue

From the Chair

Health Workforce 2025 highlights shortage of training positions

AMA Leadership Development Dinner: book now!

“Like us” on Facebook

New plan to bolster the rural medical workforce

Guidelines and resources on prescribing drugs of addiction

Survey follows doctors as they build their careers

CPD Tracking Service

Best possible I.T. deals on popular brands

Email the AMA

Post new comment

The AMACDT is established as a committee of the Federal Council of the AMA and reports directly to Federal Council on issues of importance to junior doctors. Junior doctors can contact their state or territory AMACDT representative by emailing dit@ama.com.au