Medical student body resistant to newly proposed program

Amanda Lyons

2/04/2019 3:21:37 PM

AMSA fears boosting student numbers in Queensland will not only fail to improve doctor ratios, but worsen pressures in training. 

Medical students on road sign
Medical student representatives believe boosting student numbers in rural and regional areas is not the answer to doctor shortages in the bush.

Central Queensland University has proposed a new joint medical course to operate out of Bundaberg and Rockhampton, in partnership with the University of Queensland and regional hospitals and health services.
Queensland Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles explained his hopes at a recent roundtable discussion that the program will help boost the numbers of medical professionals working in the area.
‘We know that our capacity to provide quality care and ensure patient safety into the future is dependent upon the availability of a skilled workforce,’ Minister Miles said.
‘A full medical program in Central Queensland and Wide Bay would enable medical students to complete their entire medical education in the region [and] could change the face of rural doctor recruitment and retention by providing top-class opportunities for bright young students in their local area.’
The program aims to acquire Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs) that are being reallocated from existing medical schools to create rural clinical sites, with a plan to reach a total of 240 students by 2026.
However, Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) President Jessica Yang believes the program and its accompanying increase in student numbers could have unintended negative consequences in a system that is already under strain.
‘With the training bottleneck between medical school and internship, we already see medical graduates left without jobs because hospitals do not have the places to train them,’ she said.
Ms Yang argued that the current structure of medical training works against the retention of medical professionals in rural and regional Australia, despite efforts to boost medical student numbers in these areas.
‘Doctors have to return to urban areas for vocational or pre-vocational training to meet the necessary requirements,’ she said. ‘This usually occurs at a crucial age when they are likely to anchor themselves to their location because they are having children, purchasing property, or have partners establishing their careers.
‘Reallocating CSPs adds pressure to the wrong area of the training pathway.’
Student representatives are also concerned about the sustainability of training in rural and regional areas under this proposal, and the quality of the education these students will receive and, by extension, the effect this will have on future patients.
‘Medical students in rural areas need to be properly supported and have access to the same learning opportunities that their urban counterparts will have,’ Queensland Medical Students’ Council Co-President Conor Cusack said.
‘We cannot let the pressure of attempting to fill gaps in our health system compromise the quality care that all Australians deserve.’

AMSA Australian Medical Students Association medical students medical training Queensland rural health

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Sue Page   5/04/2019 9:52:04 PM

The students are allocated from within existing cohorts and are already matched to Intern placements. What is changing is location of training and contextual curriculum. Which is why local AMSA reps are supportive

Liz Romeo   25/09/2019 12:41:40 PM

Certain training is more hands on and "better" in rural areas. Plenty of students who train in rural areas will attest to this.