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Emerging inequality and potential unconstitutionality — the case for reform of the intern priority system

Internship, the gateway from the primary medical degree to further medical training in Australia, is becoming increasingly competitive. We question the fairness and legality of the “priority system”, in which states give preference to Australian students graduating from medical schools in their state over all other applicants, including interstate Australian graduates, who form part of lower priority groups (Box 1 and Box 2). The implications of this system for international graduates have been considered7 and, irrespective of ethical and policy reasons for offering international students internships, we agree with the conclusion that the legal position of international students is weak. The impact of the priority system on interstate applicants has not been addressed.

Previously, interstate movement of medical graduates at internship level was feasible due to a national shortage of medical graduates. However, the increasing scarcity of positions has made such movement much more challenging, and has caused friction between some jurisdictions. This was illustrated by the recent removal of Australian Capital Territory hospitals…