How to Avoid the Australian Medical Internship Crisis

In order to gain registration as a doctor, medical graduates in Australia must complete an internship year in an accredited hospital. However, an increasing number of medical schools have seen an increasing shortfall of available medical internship positions as growth exceeds demand. This has resulted in a medical internship crisis in Australia.

A report issued in 2012 by the Health Workforce Australia agency emphasised a need for all Australian medical graduates to be offered internship positions in order to meet future healthcare needs.



Continued under-investing in this area increases the active recruiting of overseas trained doctors to fill the current doctor shortage, particularly in areas of need such as rural and regional Australia. A lack of long-term workplace planning and an uncoordinated system between universities and hospitals has been blamed for the medical internship crisis in Australia, along with a shortfall in funding and training resources.

Historically, allocation arrangements have meant that full-fee paying medical graduates from overseas are given lowest priority in the system and are generally the first to miss out on an internship. So how do domestically trained international students, who typically also graduate with the most financial debt, avoid the medical internship crisis in Australia?

The Commonwealth Medical Internships (CMI) initiative is a Federal government program which was implemented in August 2013 and provides up to 100 internship positions yearly.

CMI places are only available to eligible international full-fee paying medical students who have completed all of their medical degree in Australia and allows for medical interns to train in non-traditional settings such as private hospitals and in rural areas.

The positions are released after state medical internship applications close and the number of positions is based on how many international students are awaiting an offer.

Students interested in CMI positions must meet certain application criteria and also attest they are willing to undertake service in an area of need, usually rural or remote. Students enter into an agreement with the Commonwealth and those unable to complete their intern year may be subject to a fine to cover costs of the internship.

International students found ineligible for a CMI offer must rely on finding state medical internships or wait until intake of the following year.

However, with more and more private hospitals applying for accreditation to train and take on interns, there will be more resources available to offer medical internships to all applicants in order to combat the crisis.

More information about the Commonwealth Medical Internships initiative can be obtained from the Department of Health.