Intern doctors start work at North Coast hospitals

LISMORE Base Hospital has 14 fresh faces roaming its wings as almost 1000 new medical graduates begin their one-year internships across the state.

Tweed Heads is in line to receive 18 trainee doctors, with 19 for Coffs Harbour.

The state's 983 intern cohort outnumbers trainee intakes for any other state or territory.

The interns will cost the New South Wales Government $107 million.

Australian Medical Association NSW spokeswoman Dr Danielle McMullen said the influx of new blood was good news for a health system struggling with staff shortages.

"It's a good thing that this is another record cohort, as it will help NSW solve its doctor shortage and help the system cope with massive demands in healthcare," she said.

"However, ensuring the training pathway for these new interns is clear for them to attain their specialty or GP training is still the biggest issue facing junior doctors.

"A doctor's medical training does not begin and end at university.

"We continue our training throughout our careers and the interns have two major bottlenecks and many years ahead of them before they are the specialists and GPs we need."

NSW is the only state offering two-year employment contracts to graduates entering an internship, allowing them to rotate through city, regional and rural hospitals and spend their second year as residents.

Dr McMullen said the lack of seniority of interns, residents and registrars could make them vulnerable at work, and the AMA was working to improve conditions.

"It's important to ensure sound industrial protection for junior doctors, and that's why (the Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation) has prioritised renegotiating and improving the doctors in training award," she said.

"There has been a lot of talk over the last year about the culture of medicine, bullying and sexual harassment.

"The truth is that there can be challenges in medicine even though it is, as a whole, a wonderful, rewarding job that encourages co-operation."