Government gives a shot in the arm to medical training

Posted October 13, 2011, by Josie Chun

The Government’s recent announcement of significant increases to medical training places is welcome news for medical students, pre-vocational doctors and specialist trainees, as well as those aspiring to a future career in medicine.

Over the next four years, the government is set to double to 1200 the number of training places for medical graduates to gain experience in general practice, increase from 360 to 900 the number of places for doctors to train as specialists and work in private, community and rural hospitals, and more than double the number of Pre-vocational General Practice Placements Program (PGPPP) places to 975.

This announcement comes after recommendations were put forward by the Medical Training Review Panel (MTRP) emphasising the need for increased medical training places in both general practice and specialist areas. With the Commonwealth’s decision to double the number of medical school places, training bottlenecks were looming with medical schools struggling to find clinical placements for students – but this new initiative will help to ease that bottleneck.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has pledged $632 million to training more than 6000 extra doctors and specialists over the next ten years. ‘To maintain current levels of GP and primary care services alone it is estimated that an additional 3,000 GPs will be needed by 2020,’ said Mr Rudd.

‘We believe the time for action has come.’

Dr Andrew Pesce, President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), has said that this announcement ‘means that Australia will have more doctors in the system to care for an ageing population with more chronic and complex health problems.’

‘This is a very strong investment in medical training and an acknowledgement by the government of the vital role that GPs will play in meeting the future health needs of the Australian population,’ said Dr Pesce.

Specialists will also be in demand and the increase in specialist training will help to address shortages in areas of need, such as general surgery, pathology, radiology, obstetrics and gynaecology, and dermatology.

Josie Chun

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