Medical Training Review Panel: thirteenth report

Chapter 1: Introduction

Page last updated: April 2010


The thirteenth annual report of the Medical Training Review Panel (MTRP) documents the availability of training places at the undergraduate, prevocational and vocational levels. The report also includes information about special purpose programs and national projects related to the education and training of medical doctors. The MTRP report is tabled annually in Parliament and distributed to key medical educational stakeholders and jurisdictions, as well as being made available to other interested parties and the wider community via the internet.1

The report presents the latest information on the different stages in the medical and clinical training pathway, and also includes commentary on trends and patterns in the supply of the medical workforce, where possible back to 1997, the first year of MTRP reporting. For the first time, more comprehensive information is included on medical practitioners who have trained overseas, who are a major part of the Australian medical workforce.

Medical Training Review Panel Structure and Responsibilities

The MTRP was established as a time-limited committee in June 1997 by the Minister for Health and Ageing under Section 3GC of the Health Insurance Act 1973 (the Act). The terms of reference of the committee are to monitor the availability and take-up of medical training places by Hospital Medical Officers (HMOs) who come under the proficiency standards created by the Health Insurance Amendment Act (No.2) 1996. The MTRP was made a permanent body in 2001 to ensure that this important monitoring and reporting function continued into the future. Since this time the MTRP has provided a forum for key stakeholders in medical education and training, and, over the years, it has been involved in a wide range of activities covering various aspects of medical education and training.

Member organisations of the MTRP are appointed by Ministerial determination and include representatives from medical schools, recognised specialist medical colleges, the Australian Medical Council, the Australian Medical Students' Association, state and territory health departments and the Commonwealth. It is chaired by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. A full list of member organisations and members, as at 30 June 2009, is provided at Appendix A.

To assist with carrying out its duties, the MTRP is empowered to establish subcommittees as needed. In 2008 and 2009, the MTRP had two subcommittees: the Clinical Training Subcommittee and the Data Subcommittee.

  • The Clinical Training Subcommittee monitored and reported on the activities and progress being made to ensure there are adequate clinical training positions for the increasing number of new medical graduates.
  • The Data Subcommittee provided advice in relation to the content of this and previous annual reports and the specifications of the data that these cover.

Membership lists for both subcommittees, as at 30 June 2009, are also provided at Appendix A.

Report Structure

The report presents background information and data on components of medical education and training as follows.

University Medical Education

Chapter 2 covers medical students enrolled in Australian universities, including demographic breakdowns and projections of the number of graduates expected to join the medical workforce over the next five years.

Prevocational Medical Training

Chapter 3 covers the number of prevocational junior doctors in training in the intern year or postgraduate year 1 (PGY1) and, where available, postgraduate year 2 (PGY2) positions across Australia.

Vocational Medical Training

Chapter 4 covers information on trainees in specialist medical college training programs, the results of college examinations for 2008, available advanced training places for 2009 and new college fellows for 2008.

International Supply

Chapter 5 presents information on those overseas trained doctors, commonly referred to as international medical graduates, applying to work and working as medical practitioners in Australia. It provides a description of the Australian Medical Council process of assessment, and the number of international medical graduates seeking to practise medicine in Australia and the country in which they trained. Data is presented on approved working visas issued by the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship to international medical graduates. Information is also provided on the distribution of medical practitioners who trained overseas who provided Medicare-funded services.

Special Purpose Training Programs

Chapter 6 presents information on the range of special purpose programs operating under Section 3GA of the Health Insurance Act 1973, which allows medical practitioners undertaking postgraduate education, or participating in approved workforce programs, to provide professional services that attract Medicare benefits.

Medical Training Review Panel Subcommittees and National Projects

Chapter 7 presents information about the work of the Clinical Training Subcommittee and the Data Subcommittee of the MTRP, and the program of national projects funded by the Australian Government that have been overseen by the Panel in 2007–2008 and 2008–2009.


The appendices contain additional detailed information on the membership of MTRP and its subcommittees (Appendix A), and summary information about college training requirements (Appendix B).

A glossary of the main terms used throughout the report is also provided at Appendix C. The latest available data and, where possible, trend data over the previous four years have been presented in the main body of the report. Tables showing data from previous years back to 1997, the first year of MTRP reporting, have also been included for reference at Appendix D.

Notes on the Data and its Presentation

Data Sources

Data for the MTRP report was supplied by a range of organisations. Information on undergraduate medical students was supplied by Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand (MDANZ). This organisation collectively represents the interests of each of the medical schools in Australia and New Zealand. Data on doctors pursuing prevocational training has been supplied by state and territory health departments. Vocational training data relating to doctors pursuing specialist training was provided by each of the specialist medical colleges. General Practice Education and Training Limited (GPET) provided data specifically on general practice training. Some administrative data was also sourced from the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Data Quality Issues

The quality of the report, as a single reference point covering all aspects of the medical trainee cycle, is dependent on the provision of comprehensive information from all contributors. While most jurisdictions and colleges have been able to supply timely and complete data, gaps remain in some areas.

The MTRP is keen to continue to work with jurisdictions and specialist medical colleges to seek remedies to address the underlying causes of data gaps and ensure that more comprehensive information on medical training will be available in the future.

Reporting Periods

Given the differing collection methodologies for different data, the year for which data is reported varies. The majority of data presented in the report is for 2009.

Data on undergraduate medical students are reported on a calendar year basis. All other data are reported as at 30 June 2009.

The exceptions to these are data on new college fellows and total fellows, which is for the previous calendar year, 2008.

Examination of Trends

The MTRP report has been produced annually since 1997. To aid readability, tables in the body of the report present information pertaining to the latest five years. Where data is available from previous years, this has been included in Appendix D. In some cases data from previous years has been updated or amended. Readers are therefore asked to exercise caution when comparing data with that of previous editions.

Medical College Acronyms and Specialties

Data on vocational training has been provided by medical colleges and is reported by medical specialty. Table 1.1 provides a guide to the full names of the medical colleges, the acronyms used for these throughout the report and the associated specialties under which data is reported.

Table 1.1: College names, specialties and acronyms
AcronymCollege nameSpecialty
ACDAustralasian College of DermatologistsDermatology
ACEMAustralasian College for Emergency MedicineEmergency medicine
ACRRMAustralian College of Rural and Remote MedicineGeneral practice Data is also reported with that from RACGP under 'general practice'.
ANZCAAustralian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists and Royal College of PhysiciansAnaesthesia
Faculty of Pain MedicinePain Medicine
JFICMJoint Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine - Australia and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists and Royal College of PhysiciansIntensive care
RACGPRoyal Australian College of General PractitionersGeneral practice
RACMARoyal Australasian College of Medical AdministratorsMedical administration
RACPRoyal Australasian College of Physicians
Faculty of Occupational and Environmental MedicineOccupational and Environmental medicine
Faculty of Public Health MedicinePublic health medicine
Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation MedicineRehabilitation medicine
Adult Medicine DivisionAdult medicine
Paediatrics and Child Health Division Paediatrics
RACSRoyal Australasian College of SurgeonsSurgery
RANZCORoyal Australian and New Zealand College of OphthalmologistsOphthalmology
RANZCOGRoyal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and GynaecologistsObstetrics and Gynaecology
RANZCPRoyal Australian and New Zealand College of PsychiatristsPsychiatry
RANZCRRoyal Australian and New Zealand College of RadiologistsRadiologists
Faculty of Radiation OncologyRadiation oncology
RCPARoyal College of Pathologists of AustralasiaPathology
Joint Pathology - Royal College of Australasian College of Physicians and Royal College of Pathologists of AustralasiaPathology

1 Reports are available on the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing website at: