Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): the common framework defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for collection and dissemination of geographically classified statistics (see remoteness area).

clinical area of nursing activity: the area where nurses in clinical roles were working the most hours in the week before the survey. The major categories include medical, surgical, mixed medical/surgical, peri-operative, maternity care, critical care, emergency, child and family health, community nursing, aged care, mental health, drug and alcohol, education, health promotion, management, paediatrics, palliative care, policy, practice nursing, research and rehabilitation/disability.

clinical full-time equivalent (FTE) number: a special case of full-time equivalent number (see full-time equivalent (FTE) number) where the FTE relates only to clinical hours (see clinical hours).

clinical hours:  total number of hours a practitioner spends working in the area of clinical practice; that is, the diagnosis, care and treatment and including recommended preventive action, of patients or clients.

clinician:  a practitioner who spends most of their total weekly working hours engaged in clinical practice (that is, in diagnosis and/or treatment of patients including recommending preventive action) is classified as a 'clinician'. A clinician may work clinical and non-clinical hours.

employed: an employed practitioner is one who either:

  • worked for a total of 1 hour or more in a health role in the week before the survey in a job or business for pay, commission, payment-in-kind or profit
  • usually worked, but was away on leave (with some pay) for less than 3 months, on strike or locked out, or rostered off
  • involved with work that is principally concerned with a health discipline.

field of medicine: refers to the type of medical work undertaken by an employed medical practitioner for the majority of the time. Medical fields are divided into clinician and non-clinician roles.

full-time equivalent (FTE) number:  FTE number measures the number of standard-hour workloads worked by employed health practitioners. The FTE number provides a useful measure of supply because it takes into account both the number of practitioners who are working and the hours that they work.

FTE number is calculated based on the total hours worked in a 'standard working week'. The standard working week is assumed to be 38 hours, equivalent to 1 FTE for all practitioners with the exception of medical practitioners where it is assumed to be 40 hours.

full-time equivalent (FTE) rate:  FTE rate (number of FTE practitioners per 100,000 population) is a measure of supply. By defining supply in terms of the FTE rate, meaningful comparisons of supply can be made across geographic areas and over time. The FTE rate is calculated as: the number of FTE practitioners divided by the relevant population count, multiplied by 100,000 (see full-time equivalent (FTE) number).

general practitioner: in the Medical Workforce Survey, medical practitioners can self-identify as 'general practitioners' so they are reported in the data from 2011. Previously, in the AIHW Medical Labour Force Survey, the term primary care practitioner was used and included general practitioners who reported being employed in this area of clinical practice at the time of the survey (in 'primary' or 'general' care). Until 2009, data for primary care practitioners include general practitioners.

general registration: general registration is granted to practitioners who have fulfilled the eligibility and suitability requirements set out in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law 2009 and who meet the registration standards set by the relevant national board. It permits the individual to take and use the relevant title and to practise unsupervised in their field, subject to any restrictions that may have been imposed on their registration.

hospital non-specialist: a medical practitioner mainly employed in a salaried position in a hospital who does not have a recognised specialist qualification, and who is not in training to gain a recognised specialist qualification. The category includes interns, resident medical officers, career medical officers and other salaried hospital practitioners.

hours worked:  total weekly hours worked is self-reported by practitioners and relates to the number of hours worked in health jobs in the week before the survey. In editing survey responses, 125 hours per week was the maximum accepted. Reported hours greater than 125 are considered unreliable and are treated as missing.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics definition has been used for the cut-off for full-time and part-time work:

  • full-time work: 35 hours or more per week
  • part-time work: less than 35 hours per week.

Indigenous:  a person of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community in which he or she lives.

Medical boards/councils: medical boards (or councils in some jurisdictions) were statutory authorities established under specific legislation in each state and territory. The main purpose of the board was to protect the health and safety of the public in the jurisdiction by providing mechanisms designed to ensure that medical practitioners were fit to practise medicine: that only properly trained medical practitioners were registered, and that registered medical practitioners maintained proper standards of conduct and competence.

The state and territory medical boards/councils were disbanded on 30 June 2010 as part of the rollout of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme and replaced by the Medical Board of Australia on 1 July 2010. The Medical Board of Australia has established committees in each state and territory (the State/Territory Boards of the Medical Board of Australia) for the purposes of making individual registration and notification decisions. In the co-regulatory jurisdiction of New South Wales, the Medical Council of NSW has responsibility to handle notifications about medical practitioners in NSW.

medical practitioner: under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law 2009, a medical practitioner is a person who holds registration with the Medical Board of Australia.

medical workforce survey: the Medical Workforce Survey is used to provide nationally consistent estimates of the medical workforce. The survey is voluntary, and administered by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and included as part of the national registration renewal process. It was introduced in 2010 and replaced the AIHW Medical Labour Force Survey. Due to the differences in data collection methods, including survey design and questionnaire, it is recommended that comparisons between workforce data collected by the Medical Workforce Survey from 2011 onwards and AIHW Labour Force Survey data until 2009 be made with caution. In 2010, due to transitional arrangements, survey data were not available for Western Australia and Queensland. As a result, national data are not available.

National Health Workforce Data Set (NHWDS): the NHWDS is a combination of National Registration and Accreditation Scheme registration and Workforce Survey data collected through the registration renewal process for practitioners. The data set is updated annually to include new registration renewals and survey data.

National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS): the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and the National Health Practitioner Boards replaced jurisdiction-based registration with a single national registration and accreditation system for health professionals. On 1 July 2010 (18 October for Western Australia), the following professions became nationally regulated:

  • chiropractors
  • dentists
  • dental hygienists
  • dental prosthetists
  • dental therapists
  • oral health therapists
  • medical practitioners (including general practitioners, hospital non-specialist, specialists and specialists-in-training)
  • nurses and midwives (including registered and enrolled nurses)
  • optometrists
  • osteopaths
  • pharmacists
  • physiotherapists
  • podiatrists
  • psychologists

On July 2012, four additional professions joined the NRAS:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners
  • Chinese medicine practitioners (including acupuncturists, Chinese herbal medicine practitioners and Chinese herbal dispensers)
  • medical radiation practitioners (including diagnostic radiographers, radiation therapists and nuclear medicine technologists)
  • occupational therapists

non-clinical hours: the number of hours worked by employed practitioners in a non-clinical role (see non-clinician).

non-clinician: practitioners who spend most of their total weekly working hours not engaged in clinical practice are classified as 'non-clinicians'. The term 'non-clinician' includes those practitioners who answered that their main job in medicine was in one of the following non-clinical roles:

  • administrator: employed in health administration
  • teacher/educator: teaching or training persons in health
  • researcher: engaged in health research
  • other: job functions in health which are not one of the above or a clinical role (see above).

primary care practitioner:  until 2009, in the AIHW Medical Labour Force Survey, primary care practitioners were defined as medical practitioners who reported that they were employed in this area of clinical practice at the time of the survey (primary or general care). From 2011, onwards, in the Medical Workforce Survey, primary care practitioners are included in the data on general practitioners, and practitioners self-identify as general practitioners (see general practitioner).

principal place of practice: for a registered practitioner, this is the address declared by the practitioner to be the address:

  • at which the practitioner is predominantly practicing the profession; or
  • of the practitioner's principal place of residence, if the practitioner is not practising the profession or is not practising the profession predominantly at one address.

principal role: unless otherwise stated, refers to the main role (that is, the role with the most number of hours worked in the week before the survey) in the practitioner's 'main job' (that is, the job with the most number of hours worked in the week before the survey). Principal role is divided into two main groups: clinical and non-clinical (see clinician and non-clinician).

provisional registration: granted to health practitioners to enable them to complete a period of supervised practice or internship to be eligible for general registration. Provisional registration is intended for practitioners who have completed an approved, accredited qualification in the profession.

remoteness area: the remoteness area structure within the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) produced by the ABS, is used to present regional data for practitioners (see Australian Statistical Geography Standard).

The remoteness area structure of the ASGS is based on the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia, where the remoteness index value of a point is based on the physical road distance to the nearest town or service in each of 6 population size classes based on the 2011 Census of Population and Housing. These classes are:

  • Major cities
  • Inner regional
  • Outer regional
  • Remote
  • Very remote
  • Migratory.

Migratory classes are people who state their location as off-shore, shipping or migratory. Due to the small numbers in the Remote, Very remote and Migratory classes, they are usually combined and reported as Very remote, in Remote/Very remote.Remote and Very remote (combined with migratory) are occasionally reported separately for nursing and midwifery due to the large numbers in that profession.

specialist: a medical practitioner or dentist who holds specialist registration who has met the eligibility, suitability and qualification requirements identified in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law 2009 and by the Medical or Dental Board of Australia. A small number of medical practitioners self-identified as being specialists while the AHPRA database did not hold details of them holding a recognised specialty.

specialist-in-training: a medical practitioner accepted by a specialist medical college into a training position supervised by a member of the college.

specialty: the specialty area of medicine or dentistry in which an accredited specialist practices. Specialties were approved by the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council on 31 March 2010 pursuant to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law 2009.

specialty field: the sub-specialty of the specialty area of medicine in which a specialist practises. Sub-specialties were approved by the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council in March 2010 pursuant to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law 2009 (see specialty).

State/territory: estimates are derived from state and territory of main job where available; otherwise, state and territory of principal practice is used as a proxy. If principal practice details are unavailable, state and territory of residence is used. Practitioners with no information on all 3 locations are coded to 'not stated'.

workforce: includes; registered practitioners employed in their profession in Australia in the week before the survey; registered practitioners not employed in their field in Australia but looking for work in their field in the week before the survey; and registered practitioners in Australia who, at the time of the survey, were on maternity or other extended leave. Those working overseas and those not working in their field but not looking for work in the profession in the week before the survey are excluded.

workforce survey: the workforce survey is used to provide nationally consistent estimates of the health workforce. The survey is voluntary, administered by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and included as part of the national registration renewal process.