The university role in health and medical workforce development
Universities Australia (UA) is the peak national body representing Australia’s 39 comprehensive universities. These universities educate and train virtually all of Australia’s new-entry domestic medical and health professional workforce1. Without universities, there would be a significant shortfall – greater than there already is – of these vital professionals. Universities also provide ongoing education, upskilling and reskilling opportunities for existing health professionals – both domestic and international – as well as undertaking health research. We therefore have a strong interest in health professions education, workforce policy and related regulation.
Twenty-one universities currently provide medical education leading to provisional registration as a junior doctor. In 2022, 3805 medical students graduated from medical schools in Australia2, ready to enter the workforce as interns.
Context of this response
The education provided to medical students by universities and medical schools has an impact on overall health workforce volume, skills and distribution (to specialty and setting). However, medical schools are not the only factor influencing medical students’ experiences and career choices. Almost as much medical education occurs post medical school as it does within the university. Even during university, much medical education and training is dependent on experiences provided by and within health services where students undertake clinical placements. As outlined in the discussion framework, a range of other factors also impact medical students’ career choices. Our response therefore centres on the discussion paper’s focus areas (FAs) most relevant to universities (FAs 1, 4, 7 and 9) particularly sections about university/medical school education. Responses to the discussion papers’ questions are implicit throughout.
Similarly, as the peak body for all universities, our response is from a whole of sector perspective which considers the broader university context and the potential contribution of other health disciplines, where relevant. We refer the Department of Health and Aged Care (DOHAC) to the Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand (MDANZ) submission for responses specific to medical education.