NZMSA Media Statement: Medical Workforce Retention Projections

Published: Tue 5 Mar 2024 05:27 PM
The Aotearoa medical workforce, like much of the world, is facing a shortage of medical healthcare staff. Any attempt to increase our domestically produced medical workforce requires us to retain the doctors our universities produce. Recent reports indicate that Aotearoa is struggling to maintain its young doctors and funnel them into domestic specialist training programs. [1]
NZMSA runs a yearly survey of medical students across Aotearoa looking into multiple aspects of medical education and workforce. Our most recent survey in 2023 drew responses from over 250 medical students throughout the country and displayed an alarming trend. We saw increasing numbers of students indicating that they had no interest in staying in Aotearoa beyond 5 years. 47% of respondents indicated that they intended to leave Aotearoa after 1-5 years of working, and only 31% indicated they had no intention of leaving the country.
Targeted surveying of clinical students on a range of issues shows common threads around concerns about financial viability when considering Aotearoa as a future. Students report a desire to stay in Aotearoa but many appear disappointed in the differences in pay and workload they see in competing systems. Others cite the stress of medical school as a contributing factor. One recently graduated doctor reported to NZMSA that as a Trainee Intern they were ‘struggling to survive’ and that this feeling followed them into the workplace where their existing burnout was compounded by the lack of ‘a manageable workload’. They state that they and their peers ‘are in survival mode and constantly joke about giving up. This is not a healthy attitude to have towards your career especially when you have invested so much time and effort to get here.’
NZMSA Vice President Advocacy, Divyashri Thakkar, who is in charge of running this year's National Survey said that ‘These results should cause deep concern for the future of our health workforce in Aotearoa. It is not just financial strain that is causing young doctors to leave, but also the training conditions and lack of support our medical students face. Comprehensive efforts should be taken to retain domestically trained doctors and to foster a sustainable medical workforce in Aotearoa.’
NZMSA President, Indira Fernando added that ‘ Medical Students are often presented as the future of our health workforce and the solution to our broken system, however we do little to support them through the process, nor to encourage them to stay here once they graduate.’
‘We are people with families to feed, huge loans to pay off, and lives we want to live to the fullest. We are excited to serve our communities but cannot be asked to do so at the cost of ourselves.’

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