Medical roles thin on ground
Health boards are scrambling to provide enough jobs to meet the number of medical school students graduating this year.
At short notice, Waitemata, Auckland and Counties Manukau District Health Boards have created additional places for the upcoming year.
Waitemata DHB chief medical officer Andrew Brant says a domestic taskforce has been created to solve the problem.
From November 2013 Waitemata DHB will take on 42 graduates.
New Zealand Medical Students Association president Phillip Chao says this is nine less than expected.
"We are frustrated at the timing delay of job offers.
"All applications must be made by June 28 for an August 5 announcement of places. On August 1 we received a letter to say they had a higher than expected interest."
He says students are finding it hard to believe the DHBs did not know earlier that this would be the case.
"I know a student who has put a deposit down on a house expecting to have a job to finance it. Surely they knew that this was coming."
He says the mismatch is a result of poor planning.
Predictions on the number of students expected to graduate help to determine the positions offered each year, Dr Brant says.
"As doctors spend six years at medical school, we make decisions about the number of students to take six years in advance of when we require them in the workforce and 12 to 15 years in advance of when they will become a senior medical officer."
He says it is an ongoing challenge to match graduate numbers to future workforce demands given the rapid changes in healthcare.
Less overseas opportunities has further tightened the national job market.
"We have seen a reduction in the number of overseas training posts in most markets and substantially lower turnover and vacancies.
"This in turn flows through to the New Zealand market where we are seeing lower vacancies and turnover in a number of specialties," Dr Brant says.
Adding to market saturation is the government's plan to increase the medical student intake by 27 per cent over the next four years.
"Students are happy because it means more chance of them making the cut. But what they don't understand is that it could see them out of a job at the end. To take on over $100,000 of debt to come out without work is a scary prospect," Mr Chao says.
No-one would deny the need for more doctors to cater to the increasing and ageing population, he says, but avoiding the bottle neck caused by a delay in recruitment is key.
"Instead of a 65-hour week it may be reduced to 40 hours like we've seen in Queensland, but can you get enough experience in time to progress working those hours?"
- © Fairfax NZ News
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