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University wins funds to boost doctors in the bush

13 April 2017
How do we attract and retain medical graduates in regional Australia?

The University of Sydney has won $3 million in federal funds to establish Rural Training Hubs in Broken Hill, Dubbo and Lismore to boost rurally-based training and career pathways for trainee doctors.

The new funding is part of a wider package of 26 newly funded Rural Training Hubs announced today in Dubbo by the Federal Assistant Minister for Rural Health, Dr David Gillespie.

Rural Training Hubs are the first instalment of the government’s three-part Integrated Rural Training Pipeline intended to attract and retain medical graduates in rural areas by better supporting the postgraduate training of junior doctors who want to become general practitioners and specialists.

The other components of the program are the Rural Junior Doctor Training Innovation Fund to foster new ways of training rural interns, and an expansion of the Rural Specialist Training Program, which is funding 100 new training places in rural areas – 50 in 2017 and another 50 in 2018.

The most important factor in ensuring that rural medical workforce needs are met and sustained is the availability of a comprehensive and adequately supported rural training ‘pipeline’.
Dean of Sydney Medical School, Professor Arthur Conigrave

Dean of Sydney Medical School, Professor Arthur Conigrave welcomed the new funding, saying:

“The University of Sydney has been a consistent advocate for the federal funding of postgraduate training in rural and regional hubs and is encouraged by the government’s commitment to implement the Integrated Rural Training Program.

“This will be a joint effort between the University of Sydney’s three Schools and Centres for Rural Health, Local Health Districts, The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and specialist colleges.

“Sydney Medical School has delivered rural medical education for more than two decades, and by the end of 2017 almost 1,000 Sydney students will have had a substantial rural experience. Currently one-third of all students in the Sydney Medical Program undertake an extended rural placement.”

Evidence shows that students who complete extended rural placements are more likely to seek a career in a rural area than either students who have not had such placements, or students who have a rural origin.

Ninety percent of University of Sydney medical graduates who had completed an extended rural placement report that the experience had increased their interest in pursuing a medical career in rural or regional Australia.

Converting these students’ positive intentions to become fully qualified rural doctors is a process of at least six to eight years of supervised vocational practice after graduation.

The most important factor in ensuring that rural medical workforce needs are met and sustained is the availability of a comprehensive and adequately supported rural training ‘pipeline’,” said Professor Conigrave.

“This must enable students interested in a rural career not only to obtain intern and residency posts, but also to progress through postgraduate specialty training, including rural generalist training, in appropriate rural and regional centres.”

Meet our Schools and Centres for Rural Health 

The School of Rural Health with campuses in Dubbo and Orange

The Broken Hill Department of Rural Health

University Centre for Rural Health, NSW North Coast with campuses in Lismore, Grafton, Murwillumbah and Ballina.

Dan Gaffney

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