A high rural intake (at least 80 %) to maximise the likelihood of graduates choosing rural practice
An undergraduate program to help recruit rural high school graduates before they have left the regions
A medical degree delivered in rural areas so that students do not have to relocate to a metropolitan area
Training provided across multiple campuses and communities within the rural region
Training medical students together with dental, pharmacy, nursing and allied health students so health and medical graduates are equipped for rural, team-based care
A rural specific curriculum with emphasis on generalism including procedural training and skills required by rural and remote medical practitioners.
Charles Sturt and La Trobe universities are already active in the Murray-Darling region where they train students well, train students regionally and retain skilled people in regional and rural areas.
The regional communities of the Murray-Darling region have significant workforce issues that require regional solutions. Partnering together will allow the universities to address these workforce issues and provide opportunities for regional students to pursue their career goals within the Murray-Darling region.
The Murray-Darling region population is growing and ageing, resulting in increasing demand for health services and a need for more rural doctors. By establishing a medical school at their Bendigo, Orange and Wagga Wagga campuses, the two universities would expand their regional health training offerings of dental, nursing, pharmacy and allied health programs, to also train medical students in the region, for the region.
As well as the main campuses, the extensive reach of the program will include their other regional campuses and new purpose-built health clinics in Albury, Bathurst and Bendigo. In addition, the medical school will support an initial 16 smaller rural and remote communities to provide medical training and experience for students. The location of these centres will be subject to negotiations with regional communities and health providers.
Local regional training and ‘growing our own’ rural doctors is critical given that rural communities are currently reliant on recruiting doctors from overseas to provide rural general practice services.
The number of doctors working in small rural communities who trained overseas is now greater than those who trained in Australia.
Active international recruitment of doctors deprives other countries of their medical workforce. In addition, Canada and the United States are planning to increase their active recruitment of overseas trained doctors which will impact on rural Australia’s ability to recruit these doctors in the future.
It is therefore imperative that rural communities are able to source a pipeline of new graduating doctors. Unfortunately, current models of medical training result in low numbers choosing rural practice . The Australian Government spends a lot of money on incentives for universities to try and encourage doctors to work in rural areas. But Australia still has:
A key advantage of using the existing network of the two partner universities is that they are both already the largest regional providers of university training in each of their respective states.
Both Charles Sturt University and La Trobe University have a strong physical presence in the Murray-Darling region so the medical students will have access to the established student administrative services, pastoral care and student welfare support in the various sites.
Both universities already deliver comprehensive health curriculum to nursing and allied health students in the region and together they bring critical expertise, experience and capacity to establish a regionally based medical school. The figure below shows the existing clinical training sites for Charles Sturt University and La Trobe University health students in the region.
Such a significant development as a medical school for the Murray-Darling region will act as a driver to encourage other related investments in the region as businesses establish or grow to serve the needs of the Medical School. It will also act as a ‘beacon’ to encourage other unrelated investment with a new Medical School being an indicator of confidence in the Murray-Darling region and the commitment of Government to the region.
Contact Mark Burdack,
Murray Darling Medical School