Increase specialist training spots: AMA

Medical politics

16 Oct 2015

A doubling in the number of Specialist Training Program positions is needed by 2030 in order to meet future community needs and avoid a training bottleneck, the AMA has said.

In its submission to a Department of Health Discussion Paper the AMA said that while the specialist training program (STP) was making a valuable contribution to supporting the quality of specialist training, there was scope to do more.

Medical workforce modelling by the former Health Workforce Australia (HWA) showed that Australia now has enough medical school places, the challenge was how to distribute the medical workforce.

“We should now be trying to improve the distribution of the medical workforce and encouraging future medical graduates to train in the specialties where they will be needed to meet future community need for healthcare services,” said AMA President Professor Owler.

“The HWA modelling predicted that large numbers of doctors in training will not be able to get the training posts they need to enter specialist training.

“HWA predicted a shortfall of 569 first-year advanced specialist training places by 2018, rising to 689 places in 2024, and rising further to 1,011 places in 2030.

“This training bottleneck will cause problems right down the training pipeline because growing numbers of doctors in training will be stuck in prevocational training and competing for the limited number of available pre-vocational training places.

“The AMA recommends that the Government should expand the number of STP places from 900 to 1,400 places by 2018, and to 1,900 places by 2030.”

The AMA submission emphasises the need to continue to ensure that a strong educational focus is put on STP placements, and recognises that the STP can play a positive role in addressing workforce shortages in particular specialties and geographic areas.

The AMA has recommended that priority is given to funding posts in those areas of the medical workforce that need boosting, such as rural training, generalist skills and specialties that are under supplied.

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