This bulletin presents a summary of information on the medical practitioner labour force, based on estimates derived from the 2008 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Medical Labour Force Survey. This survey collects information on the demographic and employment characteristics of medical practitioners who were registered at the time of the survey. It is conducted annually by state and territory health authorities, with the questionnaire administered by the medical registration boards (or councils) in each jurisdiction, usually in conjunction with the registration renewal process.

The main findings of the report are as follows:

  • In 2008, there were 78,909 registered medical practitioners. The number of practitioners increased by 20.5% between 2004 and 2008.
  • The number of medical practitioners in the labour force (i.e. employed in or looking for work in medicine in Australia) increased by 19.4% between 2004 and 2008, from 59,004 to 70,431.
  • Between 2004 and 2008, the number of medical practitioners actually employed in medicine increased by 18.0%, from 58,211 to 68,689.
  • The average weekly hours worked by employed medical practitioners decreased from 44.0 hours in 2004 to 42.7 hours in 2008.
  • Despite a 2.9% decrease in average hours worked from 2004 to 2008, the overall supply of employed medical practitioners increased from 318 to 341 full-time equivalents (FTE) per 100,000 population (based on a 40-hour working week), due to an increase of 18.0% in employed medical practitioner numbers.
  • Regionally, medical practitioner supply ranged from 376 FTE per 100,000 population in Major cities to 187 FTE per 100,000 population in Outer regional areas.
  • The average age of employed medical practitioners in 2008 was 45.6 years, which was comparable with 2004, at 45.5 years.
  • Females continued to increase their share of the medical practitioner workforce, making up 35.0% of employed practitioners in 2008 (up from 32.4% in 2004). Among clinicians, in 2008, the female share varied between types of clinical practice, accounting for 49.3% of hospital non-specialists, compared with 23.6% of specialists.