Medical graduates set to head interstate


MOST of Tasmania's 370 nurses due to graduate this year have already sought employment for 2013 outside the state because they don't expect to get local jobs, peak nursing body chief Neroli Ellis says.

The Australian Medical Association is so concerned that the state's new doctors will also struggle to find jobs here that it has been back to Health Minister Michelle O'Byrne in the past six weeks to confirm that all 98 will be employed.

Both industry groups are worried that the health budget demands that forced ward and operating theatre closures this year mean that the major hospitals do not have the funding or infrastructure to employ graduate nurses and doctors.

AMA Tasmanian president John Davis said that if Ms O'Byrne broke her promise to find jobs for all HECS fee-paying graduates from the University of Tasmania this year, the AMA would ``hang them (the government) out to dry''.

``The jobs are critical to doctors individually and to the future of the Tasmanian industry,'' he said.

It is understood that only 73 places have been offered to graduating doctors so far in first-round offers.

Health Services chief medical officer Craig White said that second-round offers were issued yesterday but the results would not be known until the end of the month.

He confirmed the government commitment to offer intern positions to 98 HECS-funded medical graduates ``subject to the applicant meeting the required standards for employment''.

The figures don't account for a further 15 overseas fee-paying students who will graduate who would have expected job offers in the past.

Mrs Ellis said that she expected less than 100 of the 370 graduating nurses to find work within the state next year.

``Hopefully some of the increased funding from the federal government will start opening beds and open up a few positions but there is no detail on when that will happen yet,'' she said.

Health Services chief nursing officer Fiona Stoker said that the details of the department's recruitment campaign for early 2013 would be announced shortly.

She said that there had been a surge in the number of positions available between 2009 and 2011.

``The DHHS is returning the number of new graduate nurses appointed to a sustainable level,'' Ms Stoker said.

Ms Stoker said that the department had exceeded its 2012 target with 110 nurse graduates appointed.

But Mrs Ellis said that half those positions had been casual appointments with only 50 full-time equivalent jobs offered across the state this year compared to 170 in 2011.

Dr Davis said that Tasmania had traditionally offered jobs to all its graduating doctors but there had been an increase of about 23 due to graduate at the end of this year, which was significant.

This was part of a national policy initiated more than three years ago to train more doctors to supplement an ageing workforce.

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