The Murray Darling Medical School (MDMS) welcomes the announcement by the Assistant Minister for Rural Health, The Hon David Gillespie MP, of the Rural Junior Doctor Training Innovation Fund (RJDTIF).
Under the RJDTIF, the Government will invest $10 million to fund up to 60 intern and rural junior doctor positions. This will give medical graduates a practical understanding of working in a primary care setting.
"The MDMS has strongly advocated for additional funding for regional medical training places as part of an integrated package to address rural doctor shortages and we are very pleased to see that the Government has listened to these calls," Charles Sturt University (CSU) Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Vann said.
However, while the MDMS welcomes the investment in regional medical training, it remains concerned at the insufficient attention paid to expanding regional undergraduate medical education.
"We know that rural medical career intention declines significantly between commencement of medical education in the cities, and graduation," Professor Vann said.
"It is essential that we are producing more rural medical graduates who actually want to work in rural Australia, at the same time as growing regional medical training capacity.
"We have all heard the stories about junior doctors coming to the bush from the cities to access high quality training, only to leave once they have finished to work in the city.
"Regional medical training only works if we can generate a strong supply of rural medical graduates who want to work in rural areas to occupy those training places. This is the key gap in our current capability," he added.
For rural and regional communities, this investment is welcome news, but it is time to address the core issue.
"The MDMS congratulates the Government on this important initiative, but we need to do more than just grow regional medical training capacity to solve rural doctor shortages," Professor Vann said.
"We need to significantly increase rural student enrolments in medicine, and learn from the success of rural medical schools such as James Cook University, if rural communities are to see a benefit from an expanded regional medical training program.
"This reinforces the need for a Murray Darling Medical School to increase the number of rural students in medical education, and ensure that regional medical training places are being occupied by graduates who are passionate about rural practice" he added.
Media contact: Fiona Halloran , (02) 6933 2207
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