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Med Educ. 2017 Jul 19. doi: 10.1111/medu.13369. [Epub ahead of print]

Matching the production of doctors with national needs.

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Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
Health Workforce New Zealand, New Zealand Ministry of Health, Auckland, New Zealand.



Matching the supply of health workers to need is necessary if a health system is to be sustainable, affordable and fit for purpose. On the 30th anniversary of the 1988 Edinburgh Declaration of the World Federation for Medical Education, levels of compliance with the 10th recommendation, 'Ensure admission policies that match the numbers of students trained with national needs for doctors', warrant review. There are two domains to such a review, concerning, respectively, how well these health needs are known, and whether workforce supply is well matched.


This is a literature review-based analysis of extant health system planning, which underpins current understanding of national health needs and of the consequent alignment of student selection processes.


The core finding is that national need for doctors, and any other health workers, is not confidently known for any jurisdiction. Consequently, validation of student selection processes is impossible against this endpoint and data to validate these processes against the alternative endpoint of a positive impact on health outcomes do not exist. Data do exist to suggest some student selection processes result in desirable career and career location uptakes.

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