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16 Feb 2017

During a forum this week in Canberra, the AMA told a Federal Government Review of the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) that Australia has more than enough doctors to meet its long-term needs and should remove all medical occupations from the SOL.

The SOL is used to underpin independent applications for permanent residency. However a surge in the supply of medical graduates in the past decade means the country is quickly shifting away from its reliance on international medical graduates (IMGs) to plug gaps in the workforce.

In making a submission to the review, the AMA acknowledged the critical contribution that IMGs make to the medical workforce, including working in underserviced communities. However, with so many future doctors in the training pipeline, policymakers need to put more effort into developing a rural training pipeline, providing sufficient prevocational and vocational training places, and encouraging locally trained doctors to work in the specialties and locations where they are needed.

The number of medical students has soared from 2004, when just 1500 graduated. Modelling by the now-defunct HWA has predicted that, without a boost in funding for postgraduate training, there will be a shortage of 569 specialist training places a year by 2018, rising to a shortfall of 1011 places by 2030.

Published: 16 Feb 2017