Medical Training Review Panel: fourteenth report

Chapter 1: Introduction

Page last updated: 11 March 2011

The fourteenth 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 3.

The report presents the latest annual 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. Data on medical practitioners who have trained overseas and have applied or are now working in Australia are also included.

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. In 2009 a review of the functions of the MTRP was undertaken. This reaffirmed the important role that the MTRP plays, both as a forum bringing together key stakeholders in medical education and training and also as an advisory group informing work in relation to medical education and training in this country.

Member organisations of the MTRP are appointed by Ministerial determination and include Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand Inc, the recognised specialist medical colleges, the Australian Medical Council, the Australian Medical Students’ Association, the Confederation of Postgraduate Medical Education Councils, the Australian Medical Association, the Australian Medical Association Council of Doctors-in-Training, the Australian General Practice Network, Rural Doctors’ Association of Australia, Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation, General Practice Education and Training Ltd, 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 November 2010, is provided at Appendix A.

To assist with carrying out its duties, the MTRP is empowered to establish subcommittees as needed. The Clinical Training Subcommittee and the Data Subcommittee have been established for a number of years and have been involved in various activities reported in this and previous MTRP reports. Summary information on these is provided below and more detailed information in Appendix A.

  • The Clinical Training Subcommittee was formed to monitor and report 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 has provided advice in relation to the content of this and previous annual reports and the specifications of the data that these cover.

A third subcommittee, the Rural Subcommittee, was newly established by the MTRP in May 2010 to consider rural medical training issues.

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Report Structure

The report presents background information and data on the various 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 numbers expected to graduate over the next five years. For the first time additional data from the Medical Schools Outcomes Database has been included. This provides further insights into the people studying medicine in this country.

Prevocational Medical Training

Chapter 3 covers the number of prevocational junior doctors in training in the intern year or postgraduate year 1 (PGY1) and 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 2009 and available advanced training places for 2010. Data on new and total fellows of each of the medical colleges for 2009 are also included.

International supply

Chapter 5 presents information on those doctors trained overseas, 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 and specialists 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 medical practitioners. Information is also provided on medical practitioners who trained overseas who provided Medicare-funded services and how they are distributed across Australia.

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.

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The appendices contain 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 for the previous five years have been presented in the main body of the report. Tables showing data from previous years (where possible back to 1997, the first year of MTRP reporting) have also been included for reference at Appendix D.

Appendix E contains the specifications used for collection of the data collated in this report.

Notes on the Data and its Presentation

Data Sources

Data for the MTRP report were supplied by a range of organisations.

Information on undergraduate medical students was supplied by Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand Inc (MDANZ) from its Student Statistics Collection and from the Medical Schools Outcomes Database (MSOD) Project. Medical Deans is the peak representative body representing medical education and research in Australian universities. The Student Statistics collection is conducted annually at the time of enrolment. The MSOD Project is conducted by Medical Deans and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. The MSOD data are collected longitudinally for individual students at all medical schools, on entry to medical school (since 2006), during and on exit from the medical course and at the end of the first prevocational year.

Data on the first (internship) and second years of prevocational training have been supplied by vstate and territory health departments.

Vocational training data relating to doctors pursuing specialist training were provided by each of the specialist medical colleges. General Practice Education and Training Limited (GPET) provided data specifically on general practice training.

Administrative data were sourced from the Australian Medical Council, the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship and the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing for Chapter 5 on International supply.

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Data Quality Issues

The MTRP report is dependent on the provision and collation of comprehensive information from all contributors. Data templates and specifications defining each data element and the periods covered have now been developed for all areas of the report. Those used in compilation of this report are attached in Appendix E. Where data differs from the specifications, this is duly noted.

These new processes have greatly enhanced the comparability of data between states and territories and medical colleges within tables, but have led to some initial problems in terms of comparability of data across years.

The MTRP is keen to continue to work with jurisdictions, specialist medical colleges and relevant external agencies to improve the data and provide more comprehensive information on medical training as necessary to inform policy and planning decisions.

Reporting Periods

Given the differing collection methodologies for different data, the year for which data are reported varies. The majority of data presented in the report is for 2010 with most data reported as at 30 June 2010.

The exceptions to these are data on medical graduates, college examinations, new and total college fellows, which are for the previous calendar year, 2009.

Data on international medical graduates and overseas trained specialists are also reported for 2009, however, where data are for the financial year this is noted.

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 are available from previous years, this has been included in Appendix D.

In some cases data from previous years has been updated or amended. Where this has occurred, it is duly noted. Readers are therefore asked to exercise caution when comparing data with that of previous editions.

Caution should also be exercised when comparing data across years. Data can vary between years where its scope has changed due to more detailed specifications and different interpretations of what was required in previous reports. Attempts have been made to note where there are significant differences in the way data have been collected or reported across years or there have been changes in requirements, such as in relation to the training provided.

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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: Medical College: Aconyms, names and specialties

AcronymCollege nameSpecialty
ACDAustralasian College of DermatologistsDermatology
ACEMAustralasian College for Emergency MedicineEmergency medicine
ACRRMAustralian College of Rural and Remote MedicineGeneral practice
ANZCAAustralian and New Zealand College of AnaesthetistsAnaesthesia
Faculty of Pain MedicinePain medicine
CICMCollege of Intensive Care Medicine of Australia and New ZealandIntensive 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 DivisionPaediatrics
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 RadiologistsRadiodiagnosis
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

A number of new specialties have been formally recognised since finalisation of the last report. Data has been included on three new physician specialties, Addiction medicine, Palliative medicine and Sexual health medicine, as this was already being collected by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP). Sports and exercise medicine was also recognised as a new specialty in November 2009 and this will be included in the report next year.

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