Medical school no cure to doctor deficit: students

CHARLES Sturt University has defended its bid for a rural medical school, despite claims from the Australian Medical Students' Association (AMSA) that 100 medical graduates will not get jobs this year. 

Almost 960 graduates began their internships this month, an increase of 32 positions since last year and about double the number of places available in 2007. 

But AMSA believes around 100 international students will be without a training place.

Medical graduates need to train in a hospital for one year after they graduate in order to become fully fledged doctors. 

La Trobe University and CSU launched a joint bid last year to attract $46 million in funding to build a rural medical school called the Murray Darling Medical School (MDMS), with campuses in Orange and Bendigo.

MDMS executive director Dr Kim Webber said she understood concern about the lack of internship places available this year, however by the time the school was built, the problem would be decreased. 

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, as health minister in the Howard government, oversaw a large expansion of new medical schools, leading to an oversupply of graduating doctors which are coming through now.

“We’ve had a plateau of students the last two years now and eventually there will need to be an increase in [training places],” Dr Webber said.

“Another alternative is that there may be too many places in the city.” 

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AMSA president Jessica Dean said the group was against the creation of more medical schools and said the rural doctor shortage was overstated. 

“Per capita we do not have a shortage of rural doctors, what we have is a shortage of rural specialists and we’re proposing a two birds with one stone solution,” she said. 

“We want to see the funding invested in regional rural training places rather than in a new medical school.”

Dr Webber disagreed and was staggered anyone would think there was not a rural doctor shortage.

“When you look at every single person and you count every single person then yes, but most of them live in Byron Bay and Port Macquarie,” Dr Webber said.

“There is a shortage of GP’s and we’re recruiting doctors from overseas to fill these positions but with something like Obama care, they’re going to need all the doctors they can get and eventually we won’t be able to rely on that supply.”

nicole.kuter@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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