Students studying medicine in Orange are a step closer to taking up jobs in the bush and helping address the shortage of health professionals in regional areas, with the number of students now training at Charles Sturt University’s (CSU) School of Rural Medicine doubling.
As part of the Nationals’ push to increase the number of health professionals working in our regions, the Federal Government has provided more than $22 million to make the school a reality.
A new cohort of 37 students started their studies last month, taking the total number of students studying for a Doctor of Medicine to 74 after the school opened last year.
Growing evidence shows that medical, nursing and allied health students who undertake training in regional, rural or remote areas are more likely to stay once they become qualified.
This makes the early interest in the program all the more promising.
A total of 824 students applied for the initial intake of 37 Commonwealth Supported Places in 2021 and more than 1,000 students applied to study this year.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Federal Member for Calare Andrew Gee and Minister for Regional Health Dr Dave Gillespie today attended the school’s official opening.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said the Nationals were committed to increasing the number of health professionals in regional and rural communities.
“We build our regions and make them strong by ensuring those who call them home can access the same services and opportunities as people living in capital cities,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
“Aspiring doctors from the bush shouldn’t have to leave their home town to pursue their dream, nor should regional Australians have to travel to receive the care they need.
“Our investment in the School of Rural Medicine will help deliver Australia’s future regional health workforce while ensuring locals can access timely and appropriate care in their own communities.”
Federal Member for Calare Andrew Gee said the program will enable the next generation of students to provide excellent healthcare to our country communities.
“Country people deserve the same access to medical services as people in the cities,” Minister Gee said.
“We know that when students undertake training in a regional or rural area, like Orange or Bathurst, it means they are more likely to choose to live and work in the bush once they are fully qualified.
“The CSU Medical School will play a key role in making sure country people, including those from our region, can become local doctors.
“That's why I'm proud the Federal Government provided capital works funding of $22 million from 2019 to 2022 to help establish the centre.
“Our region fought for years to get this medical school established against entrenched opposition. We can all take pride in the fact that it will be training doctors in the bush for practice in the bush for generations to come.”
Former regional doctor, Minister for Regional Health Dr Dave Gillespie said the program was hugely popular, which was going against the current trend of many doctors wanting to stay to train and then practice in the cities in subspecialties.
“Investing in high quality rural health training is how our Government is making a measurable impact on addressing the maldistribution of the rural health workforce,” Dr Gillespie said.
“It now takes around 12 years for a doctor to be full trained, meaning doctors on training pathways created by our government are still undertaking training, but these programs will go a long in getting more doctors practicing in the country.
“Far too many young doctors are practicing in city hospitals or choosing sub-specialties, but regional programs like the Joint Program of Medicine are providing superior, hands-on training for those wanting to be GPs or rural generalists, which are doctors with an advanced skill like obstetrics or anaesthetics.”
The Doctor of Medicine is offered jointly between CSU and Western Sydney University (WSU), and takes five years to complete.
The Liberal and Nationals Government has also provided more than $13 million to CSU to deliver dental, allied health and nursing training through the Three Rivers University Department of Rural Health.
An additional $18 million was provided for CSU and WSU for the joint institute for Regional, Rural and Remote Health and Medical Research.