Female doctor numbers continue to grow

There is clear evidence of an increasing proportion of women entering the medical profession in Australia according to Medical Labour Force 1994, a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Of the estimated 46,014 doctors in the Australian medical labour force, 26% were women.

Report editor Warwick Conn said, however, that there are strong indications that the proportion of women in the medical labour force will continue to rise:

'Just over 42% of Australian students completing bachelor degrees in medicine in 1994 were women. And 46% of undergraduate medical students and 49% of post-graduate medical students were women.

'Also, in general practice, 49% of doctors aged less than 35 were women.'

Other findings in the report include:

  • There were 43,010 doctors employed in clinical practice in Australia.
  • Only 5.2% of all clinicians and 9.4% of primary care practitioners practised in minor rural and remote areas, which have 16.2% of the Australian population.
  • Clinicians worked an average of 48.1 hours per week in total-primary care practitioners 44.9 hours, hospital non-specialists 52.6 hours, specialists 49.7 hours and specialists in training 55.4 hours.
  • 6.7% of primary care practitioners, 7.7% of specialists, 16.6% of specialists in training, and 5.3% of salaried hospital doctors reported working 70 or more hours a week.
  • Many doctors continued to work past normal retiring age, with 578 general practitioners and specialists still working as clinicians at age 75 or more.
  • Doctors working in remote rural localities worked significantly longer hours, were far more likely to be on call for after hours work, and had much longer hours on call than doctors in metropolitan areas.
  • The number of Medicare medical practitioner providers increased by 3.0% between 1993-94 and 1994-95, compared to a population increase of 1.2%. The numbers of general practitioners increased by 2.6% and specialists by 3.6%.


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