Students decry ‘recycled promises’ of new medical schools

Paul Hayes

24/04/2019 12:07:17 PM

Medical students have called for ‘real policies’ from all sides of politics to address medical workforce shortages in rural areas.

Students sitting an exam
Australian Medical Students’ Association President Jessica Yang believes new medical schools are not the ‘fix-all solution to the health inequities in our community’.

‘New medical schools are a misguided and ineffective method to tackle the workforce shortages in rural communities,’ Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) President Jessica Yang said.
‘We need a real long-term plan that is going to create change. Not election promises that only look good on paper.’
Speaking ahead of next month’s Federal Election, AMSA released a list of health policy recommendations it wants major parties to adopt during the campaign.
AMSA is urging politicians to:

  • improve medical student mental health and wellbeing
  • prevent the establishment of new medical schools and increases in student numbers
  • take further action on sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination in medicine
  • guarantee the availability of quality internships to all Australian medical graduates
  • increase intake into specialty training programs to align with workforce demand, with a particular focus on expanding vocational training in regional and rural areas
  • improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (including recruitment and support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students)
  • improve overall preparedness and ability of the healthcare sector in response to climate change, particularly to respond to extreme weather events and climate threats
  • develop and improve harm-minimisation programs in illicit substance use.
Among the most important recommendations, according to Ms Yang, is action to make it easier for medical students and junior doctors to train and work in regional and rural areas.
‘Time and again we have seen new medical schools being touted as the fix-all solution to the health inequities in our community,’ she said.
‘The real result is disenfranchised medical students and junior doctors with a passion for practising rurally, but no training pathway to facilitate this, so our regional and rural populations are suffering.’

AMSA medical school students


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Wayne Shipley   25/04/2019 3:18:35 PM

The only way we are going to fix the self imposed rural crisis is to increase wages to the doctors who work rurally. Especially in the state run health systems. Already in Qhealth after having a partly successful resurgence of rural generalists, they are now in the process of dismantling it by reducing monetary incentives such as changing many provisional Senior Medical Officer places to less remunerated places with almost half the money offered. The rural crisis will only be fixed by offering more money to the doctors who work there and should have wages at parity to highest paid specialists in the city. Otherwise There will never be enough incentive for city based Med students to commit long term to rural medicine. Time to address this elephant in the room and start investing in doctors outside of the city, and subsequently address the widening rural - city health divide. Having a constant turn gate of doctors rurally is not the solution , we need to attract the best and retain them.