Three health professions to watch following 2012 graduate jobs concerns….

While the health sector has seen continued jobs growth throughout Australia, this is NOT the current trend in ALL professions!!



Gradstats data shows at the end of 2012, 83.6% of dentistry students found full-time employment within 4 months of graduation.  This dropped from 93% in previous years.

In 2006, there was data that suggested there would be a shortage of dentists in Australia by 2010. The government allowed more dental schools to open up, and put dentistry on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL). In 2006, there were around 50 overseas trained dentists who sat exams to become registered and practise in Australia, and this number grew to over 200 in 2012. In the decade up to 2006, around 250 new dentists entered the workforce annually and 300 per year from 2006 to 2010. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s Dental Workforce 2011 report showed that between 2006 and 2011, the number of dentists employed in Australia increased by 22.4% from 10,404 to 12,734.

By August 2012, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) had concerns that at the end of 2012, approximately 580 dental students would graduate, with an additional 200 overseas dentists being registered, for a total of 780 new dentists in the workforce in Australia. In August 2012, the ADA was calling on the Australian Government to:

  1. Remove dentistry from the SOL
  2. Introduce a moratorium on any further increase in student numbers until Health Workforce Australia reviewed the supply and demand data.
  3. Impose an annual target of 460 new dentists to be trained in Australia.

In January 2013, the ADA noted that while there was a dip in the number of full time positions in the national dental news bulletin, there was an increase in the part-time jobs advertised. There is a known shortage of dentists in rural areas in Australia, but setting up a dental practice in a rural or remote area can be cost-prohibitive. The government’s Dental Relocation and Infrastructure Support Scheme (DRISS) is due to start in the 2013-2014 financial year. It will provide grants from $15,000 to $370,000 to encourage dentists to relocate/set up a practice in regional and rural areas, and may open up more graduate positions in metropolitan areas.


Dentistry summary



New dentists entering the Australian workforce



Overseas trained dentists entering the Australian workforce



Dental graduates looking for work in metropolitan areas may need to consider taking on more than one part-time position if a full-time position is not available. If the Australian Dental Association successfully lobbied for dentistry to be removed from the Skilled Occupation List, and imposed a cap of 460 new graduate dentists in Australia, there would be an adequate supply of full-time jobs for graduating dentists. It remains to be seen how much of an impact the Dental Relocation and Infrastructure Support Scheme will have on the dentistry labour market.




On completion of the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) at university, graduating medical students must go through an intern year on the pathway to becoming a registered doctor. At the end of 2012, all Australian domestic students were guaranteed an internship position for 2013. However, there were 182 Australian-trained international medical students who were set to miss out on internships. Catholic Health Australia took on some of the interns, & Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek announced one-off last-minute funding for the remaining interns for 2013 following a stand-off between the states & the federal government.

The intern crisis of 2012 highlighted concerns that the system was buckling for 2 main reasons:

  1. The ‘tsunami’ of graduating medical students (known to be on the cards for a number of years), which hasn’t yet hit its peak.
  2. Difficulty in knowing how many internships were required as each jurisdiction ran its own application process.

Obviously there are concerns about future medical graduates becoming stuck in the system if they do not obtain an internship. The National Medical Intern Summit was held in Sydney on Friday 22nd February 2013, and brought together the Federal Government, State and Territory Health Ministers, Deans of Medicine, the Australian Medical Association, Catholic Hospitals Australia, the Medical Board of Australia and the Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA). Health Workforce Australia has set up the National Medical Training Advisory Network, and is currently looking at how to streamline medical training in Australia.

In May 2013, the Victorian Government released details of funding to support an additional 496 intern and second year training positions for doctors over 4 years.

Placements for medical interns are generally governed by the public health system in each state. Queensland Health publishes its priorities in taking on applicants from medical schools, with priority given to medical graduates of Queensland universities who are Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents or New Zealand citizens. Full-fee paying international medical students essentially subsidise the local students. A significant proportion of these international students wish to continue their training in Australia following graduating from medical school. There are concerns that Australia will become less attractive to international medical students if they cannot obtain internships, resident and registrar positions to complete their training in Australia.


Medicine Summary

Without an internship (and further training beyond that), university medical graduates are unable to register to practise as a doctor. There has been a lot of talk about the intern crisis since it occurred at the end of 2012, but more funding needs to be delivered to avoid a repeat at the end of 2013.

Update October 2013 – the federal government announced the Commonwealth Medical Internship scheme, offering internships for 2014 to full-fee paying international students graduating from Australian universities in 2013:



In December 2012, the Australian Nursing Federation released figures on the employment rate of newly graduated nurses in Australia: Tasmania 30%, Queensland 10% and South Australia 50%. There were also 800 nurse graduates without employment in Victoria. New graduates are mainly being turned down as recruiters preferred applicants with more experience. This is quite a predicament as Health Workforce Australia data indicates that Australia will have a national shortage of 109,000 nurses and midwives by 2025.

In late 2012, the Australian Nursing Federation started a campaign “Stop Passing the Buck! Nursing Grads Need Jobs!” In January 2013, the Federal Government tightened the 457 visa requirements, making it more difficult for overseas nurses to work in Australia. In April 2013 the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation South Australia Branch started a petition calling for job funding from the state government for graduate nurses and midwives. In May 2013, the Victorian Government budget committed to funding a further 600 graduate nurse positions over 4 years. In May 2013 at the International Congress of Nursing held in Melbourne, Health Workforce Australia were quoted as stating that 70% of the 2012 graduate nurses had gained employment.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s Nursing and Midwifery Workforce 2011, approximately 40% of Australia’s 283,577 nurses were aged 50 and over.


Nursing Summary

It would appear that although recruiters prefer nurses with experience, there may come a time when they are forced to fill their vacancies with new graduates. Assuming that nurses retire at age 65, this implies that a significant proportion of experienced nurses will be leaving the workforce in the next 5-15 years, leading to better job prospects for new graduates. If this were the case, training courses such as the Emerging Nurse Leader Program would become more important as nursing may see a shift towards young nurses as leaders.

Update June 2013 – 2012 nursing graduate Laurie Bickhoff gives advice for future nursing graduates:



At My Health Career we will never give opinions on whether you should or shouldn’t go into a profession, based on labour market statistics or any other reason. It’s up to you to make up your own mind, as what one person perceives to be a disadvantage may be perceived as an advantage for someone else!!


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