Internships in SA
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On Thursday the 30th of March, thanks to the AMA(SA), the AMSS and FMSS Presidents met with the Minister for Health, Jack Snelling and CEO for SA Health Prof. Paddy Phillips at Parliament House. This meeting was confidential, so we are unfortunately limited to what we can disclose. However, the message from Prof Phillips is that SA Health’s processes and priorities have not changed and that modelling for 2018 Internships has accounted for the projected increase in graduate numbers.
What we as the AMSS can discern from this is that the application process and categories for 2018 positions will remain unchanged and all SA CSP graduates will secure an internship in SA. Unfortunately, given the higher number of graduates it is quite likely that international students will be unable to secure a position. The AMSS will be working with AMSA and other student organisations to help distribute a guide for international students to outline options for applications.
We would highly recommend you attend SAMET’s information night on the 5th of April in Florey which will clarify all information pertaining to applications for 2018 positions.
SAMET recently released a Communique that outlines the recommendations from an Expert Group convened to address the shortage of internship positions in South Australia. This document is attached below and available via the SAMET website.
This document does not confirm a policy change or directive from SAMET but represents outcomes of discussions over the last 12 months. Unfortunately, this poses more questions than it answers, as such the AMSS has provided the following commentary on the document. Please note that much of this is speculation based on information from a variety of sources. Until such time that the AMSS has formal confirmation this serves as the best information available:
What does this document mean for final year students?
The Expert Group does not in itself make decisions on intern allocations but merely provides recommendations to SAMET on how to do this. Thus, the communique only serves to outline potential, rather than actual outcomes. In the document to solid recommendations are to continue with criteria from the 2017 Applications, but what is less clear is the stance on other criteria including the existing Category system and merit based allocation.
Merit Based Allocation
Whilst it does not confirm the implementation of a merit based system, the Communique is the first official document that makes mention of the possibility of such a system. It should therefore be assumed that this is a possible and reasonably likely outcome.
So what is “merit”?
With no confirmation of a merit based system there is also no solid information on how such a system would be structured and what elements would be considered in evaluating between graduates. However, based on the information available the following modalities have been considered:
Structured CV - similar to that used by the College of Surgeons and other colleges whereby a variety qualifications and experience are listed under set headings
Interview - would likely focus on elements of professionalism and reasoning rather than medical knowledge. Similar to interviews for entry into Medical School
Situational Testing - short scenario-based or written paper format focusing on problem solving and reasoning in scenarios, rather than medical knowledge per se.
Whilst possible, it is distinctly unlikely that University grades or bandings will be considered in applications. Given the lack of standardisation between courses, rotations, and institutions this is not an equitable modality to evaluate graduates and it is believed that SAMET will share this view.
What should I do about all this?
Firstly, don’t panic. Continue to apply yourself and strive to be the best student you can clinically and professionally. Take advantage of any opportunities that present themselves, whether they’ve readily tangible meritorious outcomes or not, and to continue to study and grow to be a reliable, approachable and safe intern. Ultimately, this is what we will be selected for and judged on.
The AMSS recognises this is an extremely stressful time and encourages students to look after their health and wellbeing, look out for their peers and to seek help if needed. Support is available through University Counselling, Doctors Health SA and Lifeline.
https://www.adelaide.edu.au/counselling_centre/ - 8313 5663
http://www.doctorshealthsa.com.au/ - 8232 1250
https://www.lifeline.org.au - 13 11 14
What is the AMSS doing about it?
Following the release of the Communique the AMSS sent a letter to SAMET outlining our concerns and requesting clarity on the application process for 2017. The Executive discussed this at length and devised and advocacy strategy that involves speaking with SAMET and both sides of Parliament directly and with help from the AMA(SA).
If you would like to help, the AMSS will be releasing a document outlining how to contact your state MP including a list of talking points and more information will be provided then.
The AMSS received a response from SAMET to our letter send on the 30th of January 2017 on Friday 3rd of February. Both the original letter and reply are below.
To summarise: the response notes that there has been no clear recommendation for a merit based allocation system at this stage, however is does not distinctly exclude this as an option. SAMET also note the potential capacity for expanding internship numbers if this is required and will work with the local health networks to achieve this if necessarily whilst keeping in mine the standard and quality of these positions. The response did not indicate a distinct timeline but stated that updates would be communicated to the student body as soon as it becomes available.
The AMSS is drafting a reply to further emphasise the need for a timeline and confirmation of the allocation system for 2018 as well as request a face to face meeting with SAMET. Further to this, in collaboration with the FMSS, the AMSS will be producing a joint submission on the issue which will be distributed to the Appointments Working Group and Doctors in Training Committee of SAMET, AMA(SA), SA Health, and the Minister.
The AMSS met with Stephen Wade, the Shadow Health Minister, on Friday the 3rd of February. Mr Wade was open to our concerns and will flag the issue at a meeting with the Federal Health Minister in the coming weeks. The AMSS has also been in contact with SA Health and the Ministers Officer and are in the process of organising a meeting with the Minister or his representatives.
The AMSS Executive will discuss this issue at their meeting on Sunday the 5th of February and representatives from the AMSS and FMSS will meet later in the week to finalise a plan of action from this point onwards.
Following the first two rounds of offers, all 251 internship positions have been filled. However, up to 24 Category 1.2 students as well as more than 50 international students are yet to recieve South Australian offers.
SAMET is confident that positions will open up once students accept offers from interstate and reject their SA offers. This process is slow and can only be hastened by individual students declining offers efficiently. For context, 36 positions were declined following round one and two offers in 2016. Whilst SAMET and SA Health have reaffirmed their guarantee that domestic students will be offered an internship in SA, this does not necessarily mean they are obligated to provide positions for all potential SA domestic graduates. Internship position numbers are modelled on a range of factors governing heatlh workforce management and the needs of local health networks.
Sadly, it is all but impossible that enough positions become available to cover international students and unlikely that any will recieve SA offers. The University of Adelaide will be hosting a forum led by Dr Jo Thomas to address potential options for international students, more information will be posted via Canvas.
Obviously this is a stressful time and anyone in distress is encouraged to seek help. For specific information, Carmen from SAMET is happy to chat to any student who is worried and can be contact by phone: (08) 8226 7231.
The AMSS is still playing an active role in Advocacy on this issue. Feel free to get in touch via email@example.com