Public Statement Concerning The Future of Australian Medical Education – 18 February 2005

Following due consideration of issues raised by medical practitioners, academics and medical students over the direction of medical education in Australian universities, and following the summit conference entitled “Rescuing Medical Education” held in Sydney on Friday 18th February 2005 (available on, the Australian Doctors’ Fund calls on:

  1. The Deans of medical schools and those involved in curriculum development to ensure that:
    1. all medical students receive a comprehensive practical education in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, biochemistry, pharmacology and pathology as an essential requirement and foundation of their medical education and hence reverse the downgrading of these basic medical sciences
    2. the proper balance between medical and social science, theory and practice, didactic teaching and problem based learning is achieved in all curricula.
    3. the Hippocratic tradition of master/mentor and apprentice/student be maintained and enhanced as the preferred model for the teaching of clinical medicine.
    4. the recommendations of recognised medical colleges as to content of curricula be highly regarded and duly considered.
    5. all students be given a grading by examination for completed course work and that grading systems rank all students from zero to high distinction.
    6. the role of post mortem be re-affirmed as an essential element in the teaching of medical science and as a requirement for quality assurance, and that medical students be exposed to dissection as an essential part of their medical education.
    7. all entrants to undergraduate medicine meet the same standards of entry regardless of their financing arrangements.
  2. Federal and State Governments to:
    1. Protect the Australian public by requiring that all overseas trained medical practitioners meet the standards required of Australian trained medical practitioners prior to being registered to practise in Australia.
    2. Reverse some of the impact of mature aged entry and increased feminisation on the medical workforce by early identification and where practical the streaming of medical students into the medical workforce including an apprenticeship system as health care workers in hospitals prior to graduation.
    3. Allow for universities to give preference to students who receive their secondary education in the state where the medical faculty is located and for post graduate specialist training to give preference to those candidates who are likely to reside and practise in the state in which they are trained.
    4. consider making it an offence for any academic to direct or act on a direction that a student be passed on any grounds other than academic merit.
  3. State Governments to recognise and respect the honorary role of doctors as teachers in the Australian public hospital system and allow for, encourage and recognise but not compel the teaching of medical students as a central part of the operation of public hospitals.
  4. University Boards to ensure that university fees paid by students and the taxpayer for their medical education be spent for that purpose and not diverted in the form of cross subsidies to other faculties or programmes.
  5. Private hospitals and day surgery centres to facilitate opportunities for the teaching of medical students which protects the status of private patients and simultaneously allows for practical exposure to clinical medicine.
  6. Medical colleges and teaching hospitals to recognise the unique role of the rural and remote practitioner and the need to introduce procedural training at the undergraduate, postgraduate and vocational training level for medical students contemplating a career in independent rural and remote medical practice.


Issued on behalf of the Australian Doctors’ Fund 22/3/05 Dr Bruce Shepherd (Chairman)
Enquiries: Stephen Milgate Ph: (02) 9567 5595; Fax: (02) 9567 4050 Dr Lindsay Roberts (Convenor)
Rescuing Medical Education Conference available on