The Australian Medical Students' Association (AMSA) today called for a nationally co-ordinated capital funding source for the provision of quality education for medical students in the general practice setting.
Articles featured in this week's Medical Journal of Australia have highlighted the need for the expansion of medical education and training within the community care sector.
"With the rapid increase in medical student numbers, we are running the risk of overloading the training capabilities of the public hospital system," AMSA National President, Mr Rob Mitchell said.
"General practice is the cornerstone of the Australian healthcare system, and at present we are contending with a piecemeal approach to both funding and planning for training infrastructure."
With Australia in the midst of a nation-wide shortage of doctors, more must be done to foster positive educational opportunities in the community-care setting. This is of particular importance in rural areas where the brunt of the workforce shortage is felt.
"AMSA is calling on the federal government for a capital investment in primary care practices to allow for high quality teaching of students and junior doctors," said Mr Mitchell.
Medical students say one of the most effective educational models is supervised autonomy, where they have their own consulting rooms and resources readily at hand.
For this to be possible, and to promote general practice as a positive learning environment, the government must commit to careful planning and funding.
"We cannot, and should not, rely solely on public hospitals to train the coming tsunami of medical students. Community care services are a vital cog in the wheel of Australian healthcare and can offer myriad training opportunities unavailable in teaching hospitals," said Mr Mitchell.
"Students and junior doctors should receive ample exposure to high-quality educational facilities in general practices. But most importantly, they must receive high-quality teaching from general practitioners themselves.
"The future of the Australian healthcare system is in the hands of our medical students and junior doctors. We must make the commitment to train them in the best educational environments possible."