Curtin forges on with new med school

3 minute read

The AMA has renewed criticism of Curtin University’s decision to launch a third medical school in WA


The AMA has renewed criticism of Curtin University’s decision to launch a third medical school in WA following Australian Medical Council accreditation for the school last week.

The AMA has argued that churning out even more students will do nothing to lift doctor numbers in rural areas and will create a glut of medical graduates without internships.

“That view hasn’t changed”, AMA president Dr Michael Gannon told The Medical Republic. “The decision to open a third medical school in WA was a poor one.”

The five-year Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery will launch in February as the first undergraduate program in WA.

The initial intake will be 60 students, rising to 120 students by 2022.

Curtin’s Dean of Medicine, Professor William Hart, pledged to strategically target students from rural and outer regional areas.

“If we can recruit students from those areas we know that we’ve got a better chance of them going back to work in those areas later on,” he said.

Dr Gannon said the AMA would hold Curtin to all its undertakings, including the promise to take high school graduates from less-privileged areas.

The AMA will also insist on medical students having access to internships and quality clinical experience.

“I want to know: Are these medical students going to get to deliver babies?” Dr Gannon asked.

“Are these medical students going to get exposure to surgical ward rounds and the operating theatre?

“I want to hear how the graduates from Curtin medical school are going to be ready and able to be the interns, GPs and other specialists of tomorrow.”

A survey by the Australian Medical Students’ Association found that around 40 graduates did not secure an internship anywhere in 2015. This gap will continue to grow without further investment, according to the National Medical Training Advisory Network.

While the ratio of doctors to population in WA is lower than other states, the number of medical students per year has tripled since 2004, reaching 337 last year.

“Australia does not have an undersupply of doctors. What Australia has is a maldistribution of doctors,” Dr Gannon said.

He said the AMA would have much preferred direct investment to get doctors into regional areas.

Dr Andrew Kirke, vice president of the Rural Doctors Association of WA, told TMR that the focus should not be on training more medical students.

“From the rural point of view, we know it’s not sufficient just to churn out huge numbers of students and then just assume they are going to go rural.”

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