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Work-readiness and workforce numbers: the challenges

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We need clinicians prepared for work in a system of integrated, person-centred, affordable health care

Over the past 15 years or so, Australia has embarked upon what some might describe as a “courageous” solution for guaranteeing our medical workforce. Following a perceived shortage of doctors at the beginning of the 2000s, the number of accredited medical schools has grown from 10 to 20,1 with another currently undergoing accreditation; the number of medical graduates has almost tripled from 1316 in 2001 to 3547 in 2015.2 Increasingly large numbers of doctors have also been recruited from overseas to overcome shortfalls: 2820 temporary visas were granted during 2014–15 alone.3 The per capita production of local medical graduates4 and growth in the stock of foreign-trained doctors5 are among the highest in the world.

Australia is also a leader in more sensible ways: establishing rural clinical schools and regional medical schools and increasing the numbers of rural origin and Indigenous Australian medical students. Clinical training for students has spread well beyond the traditional metropolitan teaching hospital. Rural sites are at the cutting edge of reforms, including community-engaged medical education, longer, integrated clinical…