View Comments

WA medical students are being warned they could miss out on internships, as Australia's health system already struggles to accommodate hundreds of graduates.

Speakers at a national conference of medical students in Perth say graduates can no longer expect a guaranteed place in public hospitals if there is not enough capacity to train them.

Australian Medical Students' Association president James Churchill said students strongly opposed Curtin University' proposal for a third medical school in WA to join the University of WA and Notre Dame University.

Premier Colin Barnett backed the new medical school in May, telling the Australian Medical Association that Australia did not train enough of its doctors and was "plundering" disadvantaged countries of their medicos.

But Mr Churchill said the Government needed to be prepared for significant costs and resources if it supported a new school.

"Before any new medical school is approved it would have to be clearly demonstrated sufficient numbers of quality clinical placements and internships are available for the graduates," he said.

"This year alone, up to 450 medical graduates may not be able to gain the internship they need in order to continue their training and gain general registration."

Mr Churchill said the number of medical graduates each year had more than doubled since 2006 and this had put major pressure on the clinical training system.

Former AMA national president Rosanna Capolingua was concerned about the ability to train even current students.

"In Victoria and NSW there are already more medical students than there are intern places and by 2016 we'll be short 1500 specialist training places," she said.

While the State Government had taken on all local graduates in the past, including a record 280 doctors this year, no decision has been made on next year's interns.

Director-general of health Kim Snowball said WA was examining its capacity to accommodate the expected number of interns next year.