Training the medical workforce should be a key component of health policies of both major parties in the leadup to the Victorian stateelection, according to the Australian Medical Students' Association (AMSA).
'Workforce problems do not end with the opening of new medical schools and teaching sites,' said AMSA President, Teresa Cosgriff. 'These students and young doctors need a high amount of quality clinical experience and patient contact in order to become proficient doctors.'
Ms Cosgriff said: 'Victorians perceive shortfalls in public hospitals as long waits for elective surgery and in emergency departments. These problems cannot be solved overnight, but require adequate funding of undergraduate and postgraduate training so that doctors are well placed to alleviate the workforce shortages.'
Ms Cosgriff sees the lack of funding of clinical training as a significant challenge facing the medical workforce that risks undermining the massive boosts to medical student numbers in recent years. She said: 'Our medical student population is growing rapidly, and this is why we need to see more funds targeted at teaching and supporting future doctors in public hospitals.
'Supporting education now is supporting the health care of Victorians in the future.'
State Governments nationwide have also neglected to commit to providing all medical graduates with employment in hospitals. At a COAG meeting earlier this year, Premiers agreed to guarantee intern positions for all medical students in Commonwealth-supported places, but gave no such assurance to fee-paying students.
'State Governments have a duty to ensure that medical education is adequately funded at every step of the training process,' Ms Cosgriff said. 'This extends to funding and accreditation of enough intern places to accommodate all new graduates.
'It would be an absolute farce if poor planning resulted in medical graduates missing out on a job. Until more intern places are funded and accredited, our full-fee students face an uncertain future.'
AMSA argues that the lack of progression for doctors post-graduation undermines the entire impetus for the increase in student numbers in the first place.