Australia’s medical workforce has grown steadily in the 10 years to 2009 with the number of female working doctors increasing to make up more than one-third (36 per cent) of all working doctors.


A new report by Health Workforce Australia, Australia’s Health Workforce Series: Doctors in focus, provides a comprehensive and up-to-date picture of Australia’s medical workforce from 1999 to 2009.


Doctors in focus shows the increasing participation of women in the medical workforce over the decade to 2009. In 1999, women comprised 29 per cent of all working doctors compared with 36 per cent, or more than one-third, by 2009. Figures show the participation of women is still increasing at a greater rate than men.


In 2009, women accounted for 39 per cent of primary care practitioners (who are mostly GPs) and 47 per cent of hospital non-specialists but were least represented among specialties, accounting for one-quarter of specialists.


In 2009 there were 82,895 doctors registered in Australia with 90 per cent of them in the medical labour force, a 44 per cent increase on the number of doctors registered in 1999 (57,553).


Doctors in focus also shows the number of clinicians has increased, including primary care practitioners, specialists and specialists-in-training, while among the 54 fields of medical specialty, most doctors are concentrated in 10 areas.


The Doctors in focus workforce profile is the first in the Australia’s Health Workforce Series which will increase the understanding of the existing medical, nursing and allied health workforces and their characteristics.