Medical Training Review Panel: fifteenth report

Prevocational Medical Training

Page last updated: 15 March 2012

Satisfactory completion of the first postgraduate year (PGY1) is required before junior doctors can receive unconditional general medical registration. After PGY1, and prior to starting vocational training, most doctors spend one or more years working in the public system to gain more clinical experience.

In 2011, there were 2,723 trainees commencing PGY1 (Figure 5). This was an increase of 329 (13.7%) on 2,394 in the previous year.

Two thirds (1,904 or 69.9%) of all PGY1 trainees commenced training in the state or territory in which they undertook their medical degree. Another 324 (11.9%) Australian trainees commenced their PGY1 training in another state or territory. A further 390 or 14.3% PGY1 positions were filled by overseas trained medical graduates.

PGY1 commencements have increased substantially each year, with the exception of 2007, showing an overall increase of 1,192 or 77.9% trainees from 2004 (when data was first collated for the MTRP) to 2011.

Figure 5: Prevocational year 1 commencements, 2004–2011

Figure 5: Prevocational year 1 commencements, 2004–2011 D

Source: State and territory government health departments

In 2011, 2,521 doctors were reported by states and territories as commencing in PGY2 supervised medical training positions across Australia. This is likely to be an underestimate of the true numbers of doctors undertaking their second year of prevocational training, as an unknown number may be recruited directly by health services.

Of the 2,521 reported doctors, almost two thirds (1,613 or 64.0%) were in positions within their own state or territory. Another 340 or 13.5% of Australian trained doctors were in positions within another state or territory and 246 or 9.8% of positions were filled by international students who graduated from an Australian medical school.

Although the number of PGY2 commencements appears to have increased substantially in recent years, it is difficult to ascertain the true extent of the increase due both to differences in the ways prevocational trainees are actually contracted and methodological issues, primarily related to differences in the data captured through the various state and territory reporting systems.

Not all junior doctors go on to specialise. A number continue to work in hospital settings in non-vocational career roles, typically as career medical officers.

While a number of specialist medical colleges may accept entrants to vocational training programs directly following completion of PGY1, most require applicants to have completed the PGY2 year of general prevocational training.