What we're doing for medical doctors and specialists
Our policies, strategies and programs support medical doctors and specialists to work in regional, rural and remote locations. We also support Australian doctors to train overseas, and overseas-trained doctors to practise in Australia.
Policies and strategies
We are developing a National Medical Workforce Strategy to guide long-term medical workforce planning across all levels of government. This 10-year strategy will help ensure we have the right people with the right skills where we need them, and that we give them the support they need.
Our Stronger Rural Health Strategy outlines a package of initiatives aiming to build a sustainable, high-quality health workforce that meets the needs of all communities.
Programs supporting medical doctors and specialists
We fund programs and initiatives to support medical doctors and specialists that aim to:
- strengthen workforce planning
- ensure we have a highly capable and qualified workforce
- address workforce shortages and improve access to health services, especially in regional, rural and remote areas
- support the Indigenous health workforce to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with culturally safe care.
Some of these programs include the:
- Workforce Incentive Program (WIP), which improves access to quality health care in regional, rural and remote areas through financial incentives
- Specialist Training Program, which supports training positions in regional, rural and remote areas, and in private facilities, to improve the skills and distribution of the specialist workforce
- Non-vocationally Registered Fellowship Support Program, which provides doctors with financial support to gain their fellowship.
See a full list of our programs for doctors and specialists.
Rural and regional medical doctors and specialists
We support rural and regional medical practitioners and specialists in many ways:
- The National Rural Generalist Pathway recognises the extra requirements and skills of rural generalists. It supports them to meet the diverse health needs of regional, rural and remote Australians.
- The Rural Locum Assistance Program supports and recruits locums to enable, rural professionals to take leave and organisations to backfill them, ensuring there are no shortfalls in staffing.
- The Rural Health Workforce Support Activity funds Rural Workforce Agencies to attract, recruit and support health professionals in rural and remote communities.
- The Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program supports health students to undertake rural training.
- The John Flynn Prevocational Doctor Program encourages prevocational doctors to move out of metropolitan hospitals, and fosters interest in a career working in rural general practice.
Support to study specialised medicine overseas
We support practitioners who want to study specialties in the USA on a J1 visa. The J1 visa is a temporary, non-immigrant visa specifically for participants of the Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program.
The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates administers the program.
To participate in the program, you need a statement of need to confirm that:
- Australia needs the specialty you propose to study
- you will return to Australia after completing your training.
Apply for a statement of need
Once you have confirmed your study with an institution in the USA, J1Visa [at] health.gov.au (email us) at least 30 days before your start date, with:
- your full name
- the speciality of study (and sub-specialty, if applicable)
- the name and address of the university or hospital you will be studying at
- the dates you start and finish your study
- a statement confirming that you intend to return to Australia when your studies are complete to practise your specialty
- evidence of the offer of a training placement, including the start and end dates (such as a copy of the letter or email of offer)
- current or former registration as a medical practitioner in Australia.
International medical doctors and specialists
About 7 million people, or 29% of Australia’s population, live in rural and remote areas, and they can face long wait times or distances to access health care.
International medical doctors and specialists help provide services where there is insufficient domestic workforce.
To access Medicare benefits, these doctors and specialists must work in regional, rural and remote areas and meet certain eligibility requirements.
For more information about working as a doctor in Australia:
- see DoctorConnect
- contact Rural Health Workforce Australia
- contact your local Rural Workforce Agency.
Who we work with
We work with multiple stakeholders involved in Australia’s medical workforce, including:
- state and territory governments
- medical regulators
- specialist medical colleges
- medical schools
- training providers
- private sector organisations
- professional associations
- industrial bodies
- regional planning bodies
- health consumers.
Together these organisations influence the medical workforce in several important ways, such as:
- determining the number of places for students and specialist training
- selecting medical students and junior doctors into education and training
- planning the content, educational approach and location of training
- accrediting training settings and assessing standards
- setting payments, incentives and reward systems
- overseeing the registration and regulation of medical practice
- setting working conditions
- providing ongoing professional development and support
- providing professional leadership and culturally safe practice.