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Longer obstacle courses may not produce better doctors

Intern training is now formally under scrutiny. As part of a review commissioned by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) and led by Andrew Wilson and Anne Marie Feyer, a discussion paper was released in February this year that raised a number of questions and made a number of assumptions.1 That paper mentions the Canadian experience, and hence the internship described below is salutary.

One intern’s experience

Last year, one of the interns in my program in rural Victoria2 was a Canadian who had undertaken her undergraduate medical training in Australia. She had done so because, unlike in Canada, here she was not forced to make an irrevocable decision about her future career during her medical school years. She came from the prairie province, Saskatchewan. She had reasoned that early postgraduate years in Australia would give her “the breathing space” to make a more informed decision about the career she wanted to pursue.

However, she did not need the full year to decide. Near the end of her internship she made up her mind — she wanted to become a rural general practitioner in Canada. Complementing her hospital rotations in surgery, medicine and emergency medicine, she had undertaken extensive community practice through the combined 20-week rotation…