Training support needed for new doctors

Posted By TEU on Apr 16, 2009 |

Tertiary Update Volume 12 Number 11

TEU president Dr Tom Ryan says that shortages of doctors is, in part, the result of a lack of support for medical students and recent graduates. The Waitemata District Health Board is so short of house officers and registrars (new doctors) that it has been closing services and diverting patients Auckland City Hospital.

Waitemata’s problems are part of a national shortage of resident medical officers. Dr Ryan says house surgeons coming out of medical school after years of study face large loan repayments, heavy workloads, and ongoing professional education.

“The social contract we used to have with medical students and young doctors has changed – they have debt, social mobility, and the chance to go overseas to earn large amounts of money, or even stay in New Zealand and be a locum, ironically covering the staffing shortages for better pay, ” says Dr Ryan. “If we do not respect them, and give them the training support they need to manage better the transition into the permanent workforce, we will continue to pay to train doctors who won’t or can’t hang around.”

According to the New Zealand Herald, the Auckland region has a vacancy rate of 26 per cent, with 236 of the 900 house officers and registrar positions being unfilled. The obstetrics and gynaecology department at Waitakere Hospital has no house officers, while North Shore Hospital’s acute gynaecology service has been closed twice in recent weeks when fill-in staff could not be found to ensure safe staffing levels.

“Investing to support the education and transition of our new doctors may cost more in the short term, but it’s a more rational and economic solution than training extra doctors to fill gaps left by previous doctors who have moved on,” concluded Dr Ryan.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Update: Manukau votes to take action
  2. Students unclear about value of student assessments
  3. Awards committee chair impressed by tertiary teachers
  4. Manukau bands together to protect young people from recession
  5. China’s ‘inexorable rise’ reaches Wellington
  6. University of South Pacific has other things to think about
  7. British students turned away as recession bites
  8. Report tracks plight of persecuted academics
  9. University press hears pleas to freeze journal prices

TEU Tertiary Update is published weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the Tertiary Education Union and others. Back issues are available on the TEU website. Direct inquiries should be made to Stephen Day, email:

Thanks to coffeelatte @ Flickr for the image

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