Medical doctor jobs are expected to stay on the skilled occupation list in Australia in 2017 despite campaigning for them to be removed.
It means that overseas doctors, including GPs, surgeons and anaesthetists will still be able to seek a visa for a job under the skilled migration visa programme but they may find most openings are in more rural areas.
A debate is currently ongoing in Australia as to whether the country needs large number of doctors from other countries as more qualified medical practioners are now available. It is suggested that jobs should go to Australians.
However, the Government believes that there is still a shortage of doctors in rural areas with both overseas and Australians preferring to work in towns and cities rather than in remote locations.
It may be that visas will be granted on the conditions that international doctors agree to work in rural areas, but there is no appetite among policy makers currently to take medical jobs off the skilled occupation list when it is renewed in the middle of 2017.
The Government wants to keep immigration pathways open despite key stakeholders calling for local medical graduates to take over. While the Department of Health has for the first time proposed restrictions on overseas trained doctors that is unlikely to happen in 2017.
According to the health department the home grown doctor shortage is over. It had called for 41 health roles, including general practitioners, resident medical officers, surgeons and anaesthetists to be removed from the 2016/2017 skilled occupation list and wants the same for the new 2017/2018 list.
In 2016/2017 only four of the 41 occupations were cut; dental hygienists, prosthetists, technicians and therapists, eight were flagged for possible removal, including GPs and anaesthetists, but most were untouched.
The Australian Medical Association’s Council of Doctors in Training believes that it will be more difficult for international doctors to get jobs in Australia even if they skilled occupation list is not changed.
According to the council’s chairman, Dr John Zorbas, although international medical graduates from around the world have made a critical contribution to the medical workforce in the last 15 years, demand was easing as an increasing number of locally trained doctors were graduating.
‘Those looking to come to Australia need to know that job opportunities are limited, often confined to short term roles or areas of medical workforce shortage like rural locations,’ he pointed out.
The most up to date figures show that in the last 12 years the number of medical school graduates has more than doubled from 1,500 to 3,700 a year.
However, even if certain medical jobs are removed from the list Zorbas does not believe much will change as there are still other visa options available.