A crisis looms. Before November 2012, 181 trained medical students would find themselves without a graduate placement. Without this last step, they cannot practice as doctors in Australia.
A medical degree sees a student spend up to six years at university, where they gather a general education in medicine. Once complete, the student must find a graduate internship in a hospital, where they can then move from students to become actual doctors.
According to an audit by the Confederation of Postgraduate Medical Education Councils, 3326 Australian-trained medical graduates applied for 3080 internships in 2013. That leaves 181 graduating students - who have spent between $51,000 and $300,000 - without any option to further their barely-started career.
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Babies freak me out a bit. The really little ones, anyway. It’s the way their heads bobble around like a puppy doll on a dashboard, unsupported by protective muscles. They’re so breakable.
It’s one of the great paradoxes of the human body. On the one hand, it seems miraculous that these old bags of skin and bone and mucous somehow work together to keep a human going.
On the other hand, we’re unbearably fragile. Sometimes hearts stop beating, lungs stop breathing, we just stop working. It’s amazing that so many defenceless babies grow up with all their bits intact.
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From August till the end of the year is the season for science awards. Eureka Prizes, Prime Minister’s Prizes, State Awards for Science Excellence, The Unsung Hero of Science Award, The State Scientists of the Year, Nobel Prizes … on it goes; the glittering array of rewards for those who have truly advanced knowledge and improved the lot of mankind.
Predictably, most of the speeches that laud the winners will mention something like the growing number of Australia’s Nobel laureates in science, how this is a time when science is paramount, how our lives are dependent on science and technology and how virtually every benefit we now enjoy - from better health and longer lives to the internet and safer cars - is the product of scientific processes, improved technology and their application.
Why, then, is this era in which we live apparently the most superstitious and anti-science period since the Middle Ages? Pseudoscience and non-science not only abound, they are actively embraced by thousands who subject themselves and (worse) their children to a variety of nonsensical alternative “treatments” that at their best cause no harm, but at their worst cause serious disease, disability or even death.
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Welcome to a new semi-regular segment on The Punch, where we try to extract something meaningful from the week that was.
In yet another week dominated by the carbon tax and financial turmoil, the other big story was the guilty verdict on Michael Jackson’s personal doctor, Conrad Murray, who slowly poisoned Jacko with a toxic mix of anaesthetic and sedatives.
Jacko wanted a cure for insomnia so he could rest up for his imminent comeback tour. The thing is, why did he need drugs at all? According to the man himself, dancing could solve all problems. Let’s examine the video evidence…
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If I’m going to subsidise your homeopathic treatment, I want you to subsidise my red wine. At least there is some evidence the wine may have health benefits.
Insurance is basically a controlled gamble. I pay my monthly fees and hope one day I get a terrifically chronic disease that makes it all worthwhile. Then all those suckers I’ve been subsidising with my rude good health will get what’s coming.
We all hate paying insurance, so more people should be incensed that a portion of the money goes on… well, incense. Aromatherapy, along with other feel-good, do-nothing therapies. (Actually, compared to homeopathy, aromatherapy’s practically penicillin.)
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Some people effectively work as plants; double agents within a lobby group, party or organisation who undermine the very thing they purport to be working for. It’s anti-astroturfing. Chameleon white-anting.
Dr Philip Nitzsche is, I suspect, one of these.
The ghoulish right-to-die campaigner has won Therapeutic Goods Administration approval to import Nembutal, a drug used for voluntary euthanasia, for suicide, and for executions – including in the recent case of Troy Davis.
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Today’s Angry Cripple column was inspired by Christine Bigby’s ABC Ramp Up column that argued the success of the National Insurance Disability Scheme depends on the type and quality of support and disability services available for purchase. The author is Max Jackson (full bio below).
Mahatma Gandhi, one of the twentieth century’s greatest freedom fighters, once said of freedom, and I quote: “Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err. It passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings of that precious right.”
As emphasised by Gandhi, freedom is a right. However, despite Gandhi’s pronouncement all those decades ago, freedom as a right represents a shadowy illusion on the outer circle of disability rights.
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Carl Thompson is a 21-year-old with cerebral palsy and scoliosis who is undertaking honours in marketing. He writes for ABC’s Ramp Up, DiVine Victoria and blogs here.
My right hand was yanked from my wheelchair control stick by a serious looking plastic surgeon.
“He has severely deformed hands,” she remarked, as an older gentleman professor reeking of poorly concealed cigarettes grabbed my left hand and agreed, “yes, he indeed has a pronounced deformity.” Boy, I’m glad they got the pleasantries out of the way.
Yeah, I get it. Surgeons want to talk about surgery, not chat about the weather over tea and biscuits. They have limited time available to spend with their prospective patients, and normally I wouldn’t mind. I suck at small talk - I’m scared of appointments at the hairdresser. But even I expect some warmth to be shown by the surgeon.
The Federal Australian Medical Association opposes the Government’s Medicare Locals as currently proposed.
There is little detail on structure or funding. There is no explanation of patient benefit. There is plenty of uncertainty.
Medicare Locals are supposed to be a major plank of the Government’s health reforms. It is a weak and wobbly plank.
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The controversies that have arisen between complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) and conventional medical practice may come from a difference in their origins.
Conventional medicine is based on evidence, often derived from randomised clinical trials, resulting in detailed knowledge about the likely benefits and side effects. This information can help a patient decide on a treatment recommendation. Moreover, how the medicine works is often known.
CAMs are not supported by the same type of evidence. Their proposed mechanisms of action do not accord with the way modern science believes the body works. “Evidence” is commonly from testimonials or generations of use, with little information that would allow a patient to judge their chance of responding. Although the evidence produced for conventional medicine can create uncertainty, CAMs are often promoted without that uncertainty.
Australia has too many sick people and not enough doctors. And it’s crunch time if we want to fix it.
We hear about the challenges facing our health system all the time - waiting lists for surgery, overcrowded wards, long queues to see a GP.
Most of these problems can be traced back to a simple equation - there are too many sick people and not enough doctors. Demand is greater than supply, and the imbalance is getting worse.
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Having won its long battle against evil smokers, the Australian Medical Association now wants to implement graphic Quit-style advertisements for fat people showing diseased organs and larger lads drinking litres of liquefied lard before keeling over to die.
This is the thin end of a fat wedge.
Unless they’ve been living under a plus-sized rock, every last big boned person is already well aware of the dramatic social and health implications of being overweight.
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I’m sure most people would agree that it’s often difficult to get an appointment with your preferred doctor these days.
Sometimes you wait days—if not weeks—for a non-urgent consultation. So, when you finally do get an appointment you’re loathe to give it up, even if you’re feeling better. I was reminded of this recently when I was a bit off-colour and decided to arrange a visit to the doctor.
As the appointment was nine days away, naturally my body did one of the two things that bodies do when there is a delay in medical intervention – it got better. When the only other option is to die, it kind of spurs you on.
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One Hundred years ago, the German-Italian sociologist, Robert Michels outlined his ``iron law of oligarchy’’ arguing that there inevitably develops a gap between the interests of the represented and the smaller group doing the representing.
Leaders, especially when elections are approaching, start to act in ways that will maximise their chances of holding on to power. Certainly, that’s the way their actions tend to be viewed.
Political opponents and powerful minorities use this ``gap’’ as fertile ground for undermining public confidence if they perceive an advantage from doing so. And this becomes a vicious cycle in turn feeding a wider cynicism
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If you spend time in our public hospitals as a patient or as someone who works there you are acutely aware of all the concerns about the state of the system and the level of care.
The people who serve in the public hospital sector are generally committed above and beyond all call, and are constantly frustrated if they feel that cannot provide the correct and best care for a patient because of the limitations of staff, equipment, time and capacity.
Many of us have called for hospital boards and now once again the idea has been floated, this time by Tony Abbott.
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