The trends and workforce opportunities shaping Australian anaesthetics

A snapshot of the Australian anaesthesia workforce

In February 2023, ANZCA released a comprehensive workforce snapshot, highlighting significant trends and opportunities for anaesthetists in the Australian healthcare sector. The findings underscore a promising trajectory for the profession, while also spotlighting challenges and areas for growth. Coupled with the recent regulatory developments by the Medical Board of Australia, the report offers Wavelength Anaesthetists insights into the kinds of work to expect, both imminently and longer term. 

Growth and stability in the anaesthesia workforce  

The ANZCA report revealed that the Australian anaesthesia workforce continues to expand at pre-pandemic growth rates, indicating a robust and resilient sector. As of December 2023, Australia boasted 1530 anaesthesia trainees, marking a 4.7% increase from the previous year, and a 15.7% rise from pre-pandemic levels in December 2019. The number of specialist anaesthetists in Australia totalled 5514, showing a 3.4% growth over the past year, and an 11.5% increase compared to December 2019. These statistics show a healthy influx of new professionals in the field, contributing to a stable and expanding workforce. 

Post-pandemic shifts and lifestyle changes 

Interestingly, the pandemic appears to have accelerated certain pre-existing workforce trends. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many fellows, trainees and specialist international medical graduates are increasingly prioritising work-life balance. This shift could have lasting implications for workforce distribution and job satisfaction within the profession. 

Addressing workforce shortages through fast-track registration 

Despite the positive growth in the field, the Australian healthcare system continues to grapple with workforce shortages, exacerbated by the pandemic. To address these challenges, the Medical Board of Australia, in collaboration with AHPRA, is introducing a fast-track registration pathway for internationally trained specialists. This initiative aims to expedite the integration of overseas-trained anaesthetists, GPs, obstetricians and gynaecologists and psychiatrists into the Australian healthcare system. 

This new fast-track process will recognise specific overseas qualifications, granting upfront specialist registration with initial conditions. This pathway is designed to accelerate the entry of qualified specialists into clinical practice, addressing critical shortages in underserved regions and specialties. The expedited pathway is set to commence in December 2024 for anaesthetists, offering a streamlined route to specialist registration and reducing bureaucratic hurdles for international medical graduates. 

Opportunities for junior doctors 

The combination of workforce growth and regulatory innovation presents numerous opportunities for aspiring anaesthetists. The increase in training positions and specialist roles highlights a demand for new talent, while the fast-track registration pathway provides a clear and efficient route for internationally trained professionals to enter the Australian healthcare sector.  

A shift towards a more balanced lifestyle among anaesthetists also offers further advantages for new entrants. Leaning towards to more flexible working conditions, part-time opportunities and job-sharing arrangements, the profession is becoming increasingly more accommodating of personal needs and diverse career aspirations. 

Making a difference together 

The Australian anaesthesia workforce is on a positive trajectory, supported by both natural growth and innovative regulatory changes. For anaesthetists, this environment offers promising career prospects and chance to help underserved areas.  

At Wavelength, we’re committed to supporting this evolving landscape and play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between qualified professionals and areas in need of medical services. We stay on top of regulatory changes and workforce trends to ensure our candidates are well-prepared and positioned for success.


Browse our anaesthetist opportunities here.

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