Medical Training Review Panel: fifteenth report

Vocational Medical Training

Page last updated: 15 March 2012

Most junior doctors will seek to specialise. Training is provided through the specialist medical colleges and, in the case of general practice, through General Practice Education and Training Ltd. Vocational training programs are accredited by the Australian Medical Council. Each college has its own training program and requirements.

Data covers all Australian trainees, as well as international medical graduates who were registered vocational trainees and who were working or training in an accredited training position, post, facility or program.

There were 15,478 vocational medical trainees in 2011. This is over double the number (an increase of 141.0% from 6,422 vocational trainees) in 1997, when the MTRP first reported this information (Figure 6).

Before 2004 the number of vocational trainees fluctuated, even decreasing in 2001 before rising again each year. Since then there have been significant increases each year, with the overall number of vocational trainees more than doubling between 2003 and 2001. The highest rate of increase was in 2007 (20.7%) to a low the following year, 2008, of just 3.7%.

Figure 6: Vocational medical trainees, 1997–2011

Figure 6: Vocational medical trainees, 1997–2011D

Source: Medical colleges

The education and training requirements of each medical specialty depend on the type of clinical medical practice, but commonly include basic and advanced training. Where required, a trainee can only apply for and compete for a position on an advanced specialist training program after successfully completing a basic training program.

In total there were 5,264 basic trainees, representing one third (34.0%) of all trainees in 2011, compared with the one-tenth (11.8% or 757 trainees) they comprised in 1997. The main reason for this increase is that a number of colleges have since introduced additional basic training as a pre-requisite to advanced training. Of the total number of basic trainees, 1,425 were in their first year.

In 2011, there were 10,194 advanced vocational training positions/trainees. Of these 2,817 were in their first-year, which is double (an increase of 105.8%) the 1,369 in 1997.

Almost one third (32.3%) of all vocational trainee positions was in the physician specialties (adult medicine, occupational and environmental medicine, paediatrics, public health medicine, rehabilitation medicine, addiction medicine and sexual health medicine), with 22.1% in adult medicine (Figure 7). One-fifth (20%) of all vocational trainee positions was in general practice and 12.1% in emergency medicine.

Figure 7: Vocational trainee positions by medical specialty, 2011

Figure 7: Vocational trainee positions by medical specialty, 2011 D

Source: Medical colleges