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Boosting economies and medical careers in the bush

2 May 2017
Lifting access to quality healthcare in regional NSW

Sydney Medical School’s long history of training students in rural NSW is boosting local economies and the number of graduates who want to work as rural doctors.

“Rural training experience increases the likelihood that doctors will commit to working in rural locations long term,” said Professor Conigrave. This is why we have had a longstanding commitment to the training of rural doctors for more than 20 years.”

The University of Sydney has a School of Rural Health in Dubbo and Orange and Departments of Rural Health in Broken Hill and Lismore.

By the end of 2017, almost 1,000 of our medical students will have undertaken extended training placements at our four regional centres.
Dean of Sydney Medical School, Professor Arthur Conigrave

“By the end of 2017, almost 1,000 of our medical students will have undertaken extended training placements in these four centres,” said Professor Conigrave.

“At graduation, these students are telling us that they would prefer to work in rural areas. The Government’s new funding for the rural doctor training ‘pipeline’ will help these students to achieve their ambitions and their talents for rural health and medicine.”

However, Professor Conigrave said that there were not enough medical training positions to convert students’ intentions into medical careers in rural areas.

“We’re doing very well in priming the pipeline for the training of rural doctors – many more new medical graduates are now trying to get jobs in rural hospitals as interns. In fact, there are now significantly more applicants for these critical rural junior hospital training jobs than there are jobs available.”

Underlining the University’s contribution to rural economies, Professor Conigrave said: “We have a track record of excellence in rural medical education and we are making significant contributions to local economies.”

“At Dubbo and Orange, for example, the University of Sydney School of Rural Health contributes close to $7 million each year in direct local expenditures.

Most importantly, we are helping to lift access to quality healthcare among Australians in rural and remote areas.
Dean of Sydney Medical School, Professor Arthur Conigrave

“This provide jobs for more than 50 people in central western NSW, all of whom live locally – they make up almost 30 full-time equivalents. Many of them are highly skilled, and might otherwise have been obliged to look elsewhere for work,” said Professor Conigrave.

“Then, of course, there are also indirect economic benefits. The 64 students that take extended rural placements each year bring business to local shops, sporting facilities and food outlets, and contribute to community life and projects of all sorts.

“In addition, the School of Rural Health requires many local services – motor vehicles, IT, transport services, plumbing, the maintenance of grounds and even the paint on the walls.

“But most importantly, the University of Sydney School of Rural Health in Dubbo and Orange and Departments of Rural in Broken Hill and Lismore are helping to lift access to quality healthcare among Australians in rural and remote areas,” added Professor Conigrave.

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

Commenting on the award of funding Professor Conigrave said: “We’re very pleased that the Federal Government has recognised the need to create this training pipeline.

“The funding will enable junior doctors with ambitions in rural medicine to undertake specialist training in rural rather than metropolitan centres, developing into fully-fledged experts who can provide rural communities with specialist healthcare in all major fields of medicine, including general practice and rural and remote medicine and surgery.”

Meet the University of Sydney’s Schools and Centres for Rural Health funded to establish Rural Training Hubs:

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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