Report on the Audit of Health Workforce in Rural and Regional Australia

Determining training places

Page last updated: April 2008

In general, the supply of undergraduate education places in medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, psychology and other tertiary-educated professions is determined by the Australian Government department with responsibility for funding to universities. Decisions regarding these places have been informed by advice from the individual health professional credentialing or membership bodies and by the range of reviews, including those cited in Attachment B. Recently, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has agreed that the responsibilities of the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) would be expanded to include annual agreement on national workforce priorities and advice on education and training that addresses current and emerging national skills shortages. Consequently, an annual workforce meeting of the Australian Health Ministerial Council and the MCEETYA has been established, together with a National Health Workforce Taskforce reporting to the Australian Health Ministers' Conference through the Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council. These mechanisms are to improve the supply and distribution of the health workforce to better meet community need.

Many nations also rely on overseas trained health professionals to supplement their own domestic supply. Long-term trends over the past 25 years or so show that the number and the percentage of foreign-trained doctors has increased significantly in most OECD countries. In 2005, for example, the percentages of overseas trained doctors in Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the United States of America were 22%, 33%, 36% and 25% respectively.8

The role of education and training provided through Australian tertiary and vocational institutions, and the role of immigration, in the overall supply and availability of individual health professions are considered separately in this chapter.

8 OECD International Migration Outlook 2007.