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Building a medical workforce for Australia's future

03 Dec 2013

AMA Position Statement on Medical Workforce and Training

The AMA today released its Position Statement on Medical Workforce and Training 2013.

AMA Vice President, Professor Geoffrey Dobb, said the health of the Australian population relies upon care from a highly skilled, well-trained medical workforce.

Professor Dobb said the AMA has spent considerable time, involving extensive discussion with stakeholders, to produce a comprehensive Position Statement to help guide the future development of medical workforce and training policies to improve community access to high quality medical care.

“The AMA believes there needs to be unprecedented cooperation and coordination – between all levels of government, and between all key medical training stakeholders – to build a highly trained medical workforce in appropriate numbers to serve the future health needs of the Australian community,” Professor Dobb said.

“Medical workforce policy and planning must align with community demand for high quality health care.

“Planning for training our future medical workforce must aspire to maximum efficiency, sufficient funding, equity of access to medical services for all Australians, self-sufficiency in medical workforce supply, and an appreciation of global medical workforce trends.

“It takes time to train a high-quality medical workforce - planning for the future must start now,” Professor Dobb said.

The Position Statement addresses a number of key challenges facing medical workforce and training in Australia including:

  • a global shortage of medical practitioners, with some specialties affected more than others;
  • maldistribution of medical practitioners, in terms of both geographic distribution and specialty;
  • bottlenecks in the medical training pipeline, caused by increasing numbers of medical graduates and a historically fragmented medical training system;
  • systematic underfunding of prevocational and vocational training positions by jurisdictions, exacerbating the existing bottlenecks in the medical training pipeline; and
  • heavy reliance on recruitment of International Medical Graduates to ameliorate workforce shortages, particularly in regional and rural areas.

The Position Statement outlines the key principles that the AMA believes should guide medical workforce and training within Australia. Training must be:

  • supported by accurate data and projections;
  • driven by community need;
  • improved by better co-ordination;
  • enhanced by efficiency;
  • supported by sufficient funding;
  • empowered by equity of access;
  • underpinned by self-sufficiency; and
  • linked to global medical workforce trends.

Professor Dobb said that the Commonwealth has significantly increased medical student numbers from 7746 in 2000 to 16,868 in last year.

“The Commonwealth and the State and Territory governments must continue to build on the significant investments they have made in prevocational and specialist training, to ensure that future graduates can complete specialist training and deliver the medical services the community needs.

“There is growing pressure on the medical training pipeline, and Health Workforce Australia (HWA) is projecting that, by 2016, Australia will be facing a shortage of specialist training places unless urgent action is taken.

“The AMA welcomes the work that HWA is doing to develop a long term medical workforce training plan.

“For this plan to work, all Commonwealth, State and Territory governments need to reach agreement on:

  • the number of quality medical school, intern, prevocational and specialist medical training places needed, based on the analysis provided by HWA;
  • respective financial contribution each government will make; 
  • robust performance benchmarks to measure achievement against HW2025 targets and COAG commitments, with regular reporting by HWA on progress against these targets; and
  • the development, in consultation with the profession, of performance benchmarks to ensure that the quality of medical training is sustained.

The AMA Position Statement on Medical Workforce and Training 2013 is at


2 December 2013

CONTACT:        John Flannery                     02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761

                          Kirsty Waterford                02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753

Published: 03 Dec 2013