MITCHELL Waters will finish a degree in medicine next year and is considering a career as a paediatrician after a nine-week placement at Blacktown Hospital.
But with a shortage of more than 140 internship places in NSW and no estimates as to how many places will be offered in 2014, it is an ambition that may not be fulfilled.
Mr Waters is the University of Western Sydney Medical Society's representative on the Australian Medical Students' Association.
He said graduates cannot register as doctors until they have completed an internship year.
"The internship crisis is the big ticket item at the moment because everyone's a bit worried about it," he said.
"I think the real issue is that communities are needing more doctors and without the internship places we won't be able to fill the need."
The Health Education and Training Institute (HETI) estimates the shortage of internship places in NSW will reach 146 next year. About 120 medical students will graduate from UWS alone in that year.
And while internship places are guaranteed for domestic full fee-paying and commonwealth supported students in NSW at present, the current agreement expires in 2013.
General manager of Blacktown-Mt Druitt Hospital, Andrew Newton, said 40 intern positions were offered this year across a network which includes Blacktown, Mt Druitt and Bathurst hospitals, and will become 42 places in 2013.
"Capacity for 2014 and beyond will be determined each year based on workforce requirements," he said.
"The barriers that NSW, like all states and territories, faces in establishing new intern positions is both the capacity to fund new positions and the capacity of the health system to provide . . . appropriate clinical experiences for them to satisfy registration requirements."
Mr Newton said HETI accreditation and funding for salaries and staff supervision and education were needed before intern programs could be offered at the hospital. Mr Waters said it was great that the government had recognised the doctor shortage and created new medical schools, but it needed to extend its funding commitment to cover more internship places.
"It's more a safety net than anything else and I think it's important," he said.
"Even though you are doing full-time prac [for the final three years of a medicine degree], at the end of the day they're not your calls.
"I'm not an intern yet, but I expect it will be very different when you're out there in a hospital making the decisions yourself."