A review on medical intern training in Australia has started and will be of particular interest to junior doctors and medical students. The findings of the review could significantly change the future face of prevocational training in Australia. Undoubtedly, any changes to internship will also influence medical school and vocational training.
The Review of Medical Intern Training was commissioned by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council to examine the current medical internship model and consider potential reforms to support medical graduate transition into practice and further training.
The purpose of the review is to examine the current medical internship model and consider potential reforms to support medical graduate transition into practice and further training and to ensure that the workforce continues to be well trained, fit for purpose and is equipped to meet the changing health needs of the Australian population. Professor Andrew Wilson and Dr Anne-Marie Feyer have been appointed by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council as the independent reviewers.
An excellent discussion paper has been released to support the initial consultation phase of the Review. It is well worth reading. It provides an overview of some of the key changes to the health landscape and their relationship to internship, and medical training generally.
Internship is a balance of competing priorities. There is the ongoing tension between providing a service for employers and recognising that interns require continuing education and training to mature into safe clinicians. There is also the ongoing struggle between ensuring patient safety with appropriate levels of supervision and promoting graded autonomy so that interns are able to develop increasing independent practice. Any change to the internship model needs to recognise its potential impact on this delicate balance.
In my opinion, the current intern model provides an important and valuable transition for doctors from medical school to work-based practice. The system currently produces excellent doctors. So why change? Because significant improvements can be made in this space especially in regards to the development of a national intern curriculum and more rigorous work-based assessment. I hope that the findings of the review change internship for the better and not just for change’s sake.