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WA’s doctor training numbers amongst the nation’s lowest

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The number of doctors being trained in Western Australia is amongst the lowest per capita in Australia, with all states and territories except the Northern Territory preparing more doctors to serve their communities.

Western Australia currently offers 14.4 doctor training places per 100,000 head of population. This is well below the top performing ACT, which offers 25.7 places per 100,000 head of population.

Following the ACT are Tasmania (23.7), South Australia (21.5), Queensland (19.3), New South Wales (15.3) and Victoria (15.2). The Northern Territory is currently producing the lowest number of doctors, with 10.4 places offered per 100,000 head of population.

The statistics were collected as part of Curtin University’s proposal for a new medical school based at its Bentley Campus.*

Professor Jill Downie, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Health Sciences at Curtin University, said the number of training places currently being offered was concerning given Western Australia’s major expansions in public and private hospitals giving rise to a 30 per cent increase in hospital beds and the current rate of population growth.

“Western Australia is experiencing the fastest growing population in Australia at 2.7 per cent growth annually,” Professor Downie said.

“People in city and country areas already complain about the lack of access to doctors and this situation is only going to get worse.

“By 2022 it is predicted that an extra 2,897 doctors will be needed.

“It’s time to act now to prepare ourselves for the next period of strong population growth.”

The low number of doctor training places available in the State is just one concern to the University.

Western Australia is also now the only state in Australia without a direct-entry undergraduate medical program, and is the only state or territory apart from the smaller ACT and Tasmania, to have only one public medical program.

“The low number of training opportunities combined with not having an undergraduate medical degree available in WA will mean students will look for alternative study options,” she said.

“This is likely to mean school leavers wishing to commence medical studies straight from school will move to another state to study and may be lost to WA’s future workforce.”

“Queensland, which is experiencing its own population boom, is on the right track with four universities offering medical degrees, two of those being direct-entry undergraduate degrees.

In February, Curtin launched, a community campaign aimed at raising awareness of the increasing shortage of doctors in Western Australia and Curtin’s proposal for a medical school.

The proposed medical school would increase the number of doctors available by offering the only five-year direct-entry undergraduate medicine degree available in Western Australia.

Should approval for a medical school be achieved by mid-2012, the first graduates of Curtin’s degree would enter the workforce in 2019.

To register support for the campaign visit

* Notes to editor:

Based on Medical Deans 2011 data          
  Student Numbers (2011 enrolments)
State University School Commenced Domestic International TOTAL Per 100,000 pop’n
ACT Australian National University 2004 92 2 94  
          94 25.7
New South Wales University of Newcastle & University of New England 1975/2008 179 19 198  
University of New South Wales 1960 206 69 275  
University of Notre Dame – Sydney 2008 113 0 113  
University of Sydney 1856 261 66 327  
University of Western Sydney 2007 104 18 122  
University of Wollongong 2007 78 7 85  
          1,120 15.3
Queensland University of Queensland 1936 305 142 447  
Bond University 2005 85 2 87  
(Full Fee places only)
Griffith University 2005 154 0 154  
James Cook University 2000 182 13 195  
          883 19.3
South Australia University of Adelaide 1885 175 15 190  
Flinders University 1972 142 25 167  
          357 21.5
Tasmania University of Tasmania TBD 100 21 121  
          121 23.7
Victoria Deakin University 2008 131 1 132  
University of Melbourne 1862 305 26 331  
Monash University 1961 316 78 394  
          857 15.2
Western Australia University of WA 1956 211 25 236  
University of Notre Dame – Fremantle 2005 102 0 102  
          338 14.4
Northern Territory NT Medical Program – enrolled at Flinders University 2011 24 0 24  
          24 10.4
2011 enrolment figures taken from 2011 Medical Students Statistics, Medical Deans Australia & NZ (Table 1a & Table 2 accessed 18.3.2012)
Flinders 142 inc the 24 NTMP enrolments (24 is not double counted in 3770 total)
Uni of Melbourne’s 80 are full fee paying domestic and international
Uni of Melbourne’s 2011 intake is into the MD program only
Monash 2011 intake is 89 PG and 305 UG
UWA 2011 intake is 65 PG and 171 UG


Kristy Jones, Public Relations, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 9085, Email:


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