MD doctors in Australia are seeing a surge in demand for their services, and are increasingly hiring more graduates to fill the gap.
The numbers from the Australian Medical Association show there are currently about 400 MDs working in the country.
But some doctors are starting to feel the pinch.
ABC Health Editor Dr Mark Wilson says the rise in demand is a result of a growing shortage of graduates.
“We’ve got a real challenge in terms of our training and we’ve got to have that capacity.
We’ve got over 700 doctors and medical students working in Australia now, but we have only about 200 MDs.”
Dr Mark is also warning that Australia’s ageing population and shortage of nurses is putting pressure on doctors.
He says while nurses are essential, many doctors have a tougher time recruiting and retaining new graduates.
He has called for the introduction of a salary cap for doctors.
Dr Mark says the shortage of doctors is not new.
“It’s been going on for a long time, it’s just not seen as a real issue that people are actually struggling to fill.”
Dr John Houghton, a senior lecturer in health and clinical psychology at the University of Sydney, says it’s not unusual for doctors to be hesitant to accept new students.
Dr Hroughton says doctors who have already had a degree may not be able to give a qualified candidate the same opportunity. “
One is the length of the course they’ve completed and the length that they’ve had the education that they’re going to have,” Dr Houghtons said.
Dr Hroughton says doctors who have already had a degree may not be able to give a qualified candidate the same opportunity.
“For example, a doctor might be a bit wary of accepting a student who’s had less education than they had,” he said.
“So they might just not be prepared to go and get a PhD.”
A shortage of trainees is also a big issue for doctors in Sydney.
Dr Wilson says doctors are seeing more applicants for medical training, but that can be an issue when it comes to filling traineeships.
“You have a lot of people coming into training, and that trainee has probably had some training in another discipline, but not necessarily in medical science,” he says.
Dr Michael Smith, an associate professor of medicine at the Alfred Hospital, says doctors have traditionally had to wait for a particular person to make the transition to a particular specialty before they could get a licence to practise.
“The fact that we have a situation where we have to make that transition and be able take somebody through that, I think is quite difficult for the general public to understand,” Dr Smith said.
He believes there are also some factors at play.
“A lot of the reasons that people don’t accept candidates are the same reasons that doctors might be reluctant to accept a student,” he added.
“Because they don’t want to be judged for that first time by a doctor who’s never actually seen a patient.”
Doctors say they are working hard to recruit the most qualified and the most experienced trainees they can.
“Physicians who have had a year of training and they’ve passed a course and are ready to be licensed, that’s a great opportunity for our employers to see who they can recruit and who they think will be the best fit for the position,” Dr Wilson said.
For Dr Haughton, the situation is similar.
“I think for the most part the number of people that we’ve had in training is about 100 per cent, but there’s a huge range of people in that pool and they all have a certain level of education, and it’s always a challenge to find the right match,” he told ABC Radio Sydney.
When we’re looking for a new doctor we’ve actually got a really strong pool of applicants, and there are a lot more that are qualified than the pool of candidates that we normally have.”