- Posted by Brian Fernandes
- On 10/08/2017
Australia is receiving its twenty second medical school, the Macquarie Medical School with the intake of sixty new medical students to begin in 2018. Each medical school place doesn’t come cheap, with each degree costing $256,000.
The proposal for the Macquarie Medical School doesn’t pass the public interest test. The medical school adds further saturation to a Sydney metropolis that has one of the highest concentrations of medical students in the country. It also charts dangerous waters by being the first public university in NSW to open a medical school without any Commonwealth Supported Places. This may well open the floodgates for the half-dozen medical school proposals currently sitting on the Federal Minister of Health’s desk awaiting CSP allocation to go the Macquarie way and begin offering full-fee-paying degrees.
The headline of the new Macquarie Medical School is that it will offer medical students a five-month placement at Apollo Hospital Hyderabad, India. Having travelled to India in 2008 and toured Apollo Hospital, it’s undisputed that Apollo Hospital is one of the country’s finest hospitals offering exposure to incredibly rare and super-specialised medicine. The contentious element for Macquarie medical students is the ethical quandary of displacing homegrown indian medical students from the opportunity to train at one of India’s leading medical teaching hospitals. The sustainability of these overseas placements for the local health care system is a neglected afterthought by the proponents of the Macquarie Medical School.
In recent years, the AMA has publicly renounced plans to expand the number of medical schools noting that Australia does not have a shortage of medical graduates. Instead, it advocated strongly for the funding of additional training positions for doctors-in-training and the appropriate accreditation of sites in areas of workforce shortage to train them. In 2015, an article in the MJA showed that full-fee-paying medical courses like the Macquarie Medical School degree skewed medical graduate intention away from rural locations and general practice, arguably one of the places of most workforce shortage in Australia.
Australia needs doctors that are willing to serve areas of rural and regional communities that desperately require the medical workforce to care for them. Australia needs medical graduates that seek to bolster the primary health care system and generate the next advances in research and innovation agenda. Australia needs universities that operate responsibly, rather than just seeking to prop up their bottom line by charging hundreds of thousands of dollars for medical degrees. We need the best doctors, not simply the richest.