This report presents information on the medical workforce, based on estimates derived from the National Health Workforce Data Set: medical practitioners 2011, the second in this new series. The data set contains information on the demographic and employment characteristics of medical practitioners who were registered in Australia in 2011. Data are collected via registration forms and a survey instrument administered by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, in conjunction with the annual registration renewal process for medical practitioners.

The main findings of the report are:

  • In 2011, there were 87,790 medical practitioners registered in Australia, and 85.3% of them responded to the workforce survey.
  • Between 2007 and 2011, the number of medical practitioners employed in medicine increased by 17.3% from 67,208 to 78,833. In 2011, 93.8% (73,980) were working as clinicians, of whom 33.1% were specialists and 33.9% were general practitioners.
  • Of those employed as non-clinicians (6.2% of all employed medical practitioners), more than half were researchers (26.9%) or administrators (27.7%).
  • Physician was the largest main speciality of practice among both clinician specialists and total specialists (5,157 and 5,689 respectively). The second-largest main speciality for clinician specialists and specialists (3,951 and 4,125 respectively) was surgery.
  • The average weekly hours worked by employed medical practitioners remained stable between 2007 and 2011. In 2011, male medical practitioners worked an average of 45.9 hours per week, while female medical practitioners worked an average of 38.7 hours per week. In 2011, both male and female medical practitioners aged 20–34 worked the highest average weekly hours.
  • The overall supply of clinicians across all states and territories increased between 2007 and 2011, from 323.5 full-time equivalents per 100,000 population in 2007 to 360.4 in 2011.
  • Between 2007 and 2011, there was also a rise in the supply of employed medical practitioners in all regional areas, including Major cities, Inner regional areas, Outer regional areas and Remote/Very remote areas.
  • The average age of medical practitioners decreased slightly from 2007 to 2011 (45.9 to 45.5 years).
  • Women are increasingly represented in the medical practitioner workforce, growing to 37.6% of employed practitioners in 2011 (up from 34.0% in 2007). Among clinicians, in 2011, women accounted for 48.0% of hospital non-specialists compared to 25.6% of specialists.
  • In 2011, 264 employed medical practitioners identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, representing 0.3% of all employed medical practitioners in Australia.