THE number of medical practitioners working in Australia's regional areas is on the rise, as is the number of women doctors across the nation, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare revealed today.
The number of medical practitioners employed in inner regional areas grew by 34.4% in the past five years, the institute report on medical workforce changes showed.
The report also showed similar growth in outer regional areas, with 40.1% more medical practitioners working in outer regional areas in 2011 than 2007, and 25.4% growth in remote areas.
Institute spokeswoman Teresa Dickinson said the rise equated to an extra 60 full-time doctors in inner regional areas, an extra 69 in outer regional areas and another 45 full-time doctors in remote or very remote areas.
Of those medicos working in the regions, the majority across all areas remained general practitioners, closely followed by specialists, other clinicians, hospital non-specialists, specialists in training and non-clinicians.
About 94% (73,980) of employed medical practitioners were working as clinicians, including 34% working as general practitioners, 33% specialists, 17% specialists-in-training, and 13% hospital non-specialists.
Of those employed as non-clinicians, more than half were researchers or administrators in 2011.
Across the nation, there were about 10,000 more working medical practitioners in 2011 compared with 2007, up 17% from 67,208 in 2007 to 78,833 in 2011.
The overall supply of clinicians across all states and territories rose 11.4% between 2007 and 2011, from 323 full-timers for every 100,000 people in 2007 to 360 in 2011.
Ms Dickinson said women were also on the rise in the medical practitioner workforce, up from 34% in 2007 to 38% in 2011.
"Among clinicians, women accounted for 48% of hospital non-specialists compared to 26% of specialists," she said.
The average age of medical practitioners has fallen slightly from 2007 to 2011, from 45.9 to 45.5 years.
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.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 87,790: medical practitioners registered in Australia in 2011
- 78,833: medical practitioners employed in medicine in 2011
- 2 in 5: women employed as medical practitioners
- 1 in 4: of all employed medical practitioners were 55 or older
- 43.2: Average number of hours worked each week
- 93.8%: Of all were employed as clinicians
- 3770: students completed undergraduate medical training
SOURCE: AIHW, Medical Workforce, 2011.
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