Report on the Audit of Health Workforce in Rural and Regional Australia

3.2.1 Education and training

Page last updated: April 2008

The number of available undergraduate education places for health professional education is determined by the Australian Government department with responsibility for funding to universities. The numbers and locations of places in each discipline is the result of a combination of:

  • the prevailing views of successive governments about the relative priority of professional groups
  • the nature and type of training required
  • the interest of universities in offering particular courses which is often influenced by the availability of funding to support capital investment, student demand, and the funding per place through the Australian Government and
  • the popularity of individual courses over time.
The length of time taken to complete training courses across health professions can add substantial delays between the decisions of governments to allocate numbers of university education places and the resultant numbers of health professionals completing training and available for work. Table 3.2.1 summarises the times taken for various levels of medical training.

Table 3.2.1 Typical minimum timeframes for medical qualifications

Stage of training

Number of years for each stage of training

Cumulative number of years training

Medical student (5-6 year medical degree)5-6 years5-6 years
Intern (post graduate year 1)1 year6-7 years
General Registration
Junior/resident medical officer (post graduate year2)1 year7-8 years
Senior medical officer (post graduate year 3+4)2 years8-10 years
Specialist trainee/registrar (4-6 years Medical Specialist Degree)4-6 years8-16 years
Medical Specialist12-17 years
Sub-specialty training12-17+ years
Governments at all levels must work together with other stakeholders to ensure that there are enough clinical placements, intern places and vocational training places for the coming surge of graduates.

(Australian Medical Association submission)