New medical school will worsen medical workforce crisis

Media Release:
17 May 2015

Western Australian medical students are worried a new medical school will worsen medical workforce crisis

The Western Australian Medical Students’ Society (WAMSS), Medical Students’ Association of Notre Dame (MSAND) and the Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) have together expressed serious concerns regarding the Federal Government’s plans to open a medical school at Curtin University.

A new medical school in Western Australia would ultimately reduce the quality of medical education, training and patient health in Western Australia, whilst simultaneously exacerbating current workforce failures.

There is significant doubt regarding the ability of the Western Australian hospital system to provide quality clinical placements for the proposed influx of students. Medical student numbers are at an all time high, with medical graduates in WA tripling from 107 domestic and international graduates in 2004, to a total of 337 graduates projected by the end of 2015.

AMSA President, James Lawler, stated “There is a crisis in medical education, but it isn’t a lack of medical students, it stems from a lack of training places.

“The well-documented shortage of intern and speciality training places means increases in medical student numbers will not translate into an increase in the number of fully qualified doctors in the Australian health workforce.

“This announcement by the government suggests a serious lack of workforce planning, and appears to be driven by politics rather than public health.”

MSAND President, Mez Nuthall, stated “We need to increase our current system’s capacity to alleviate existing stressors, before we make room for more students to enter the system.”

“Despite growth in student numbers there has not been a commensurate increase in internships or postgraduate training positions, which is shortsighted.

Ms Nuthall added “Without further investment in training infrastructure, this new school won’t increase the number of doctors serving our community – it will simply increase the number of half-trained doctors.”

According to WAMSS President, Mr Kiran Narula, these resources are already under extensive strain.

“Medicine is taught by the bedside, with students gaining significant experience from exposure to real clinical situations. If access to clinical teaching and support infrastructure is lacking, then naturally the quality of medical education is compromised.

“Clinical education providers in WA are already overloaded with students, so this decision by Tony Abbott is building more barriers to training and, paradoxically, worsening the medical workforce shortage.

“Before any proposal for a new medical school should be considered there must be substantial evidence showing there is capacity to appropriately train new students, to do otherwise would be grossly irresponsible.”

“As yet, no data has demonstrated additional capacity in WA to provide quality training for expanded cohorts, without compromising the quality of training for students enrolled in existing medical programs.”

“These are not new concerns,” Mr Narula continued, “for five years Curtin University has persisted with this proposal without considering the significant problems it will create; none of which have been addressed in this renewed effort.”

“That they continue blithely on and refuse to listen to multiple independent sources and stakeholders, including their own department, is myopic and disappointing.”

Media Contacts:WAMSS-Logo-2012-Transparent-72dpi-500px-by-500px

Maria Bilal
0416 668 091
[email protected]

Kiran Narula
0431 898 281
[email protected]

Kate Nuthall
0403 982 350
[email protected]