- Charles Sturt and Western Sydney University celebrate successful first year of the Joint Program in Medicine partnership
- The School of Rural Medicine officially opened by Deputy Prime Minister, The Hon. Barnaby Joyce; the Minister for Regional Health, The Hon. Dr David Gillespie; and the Minister for Defence Personnel and Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Member for Calare, The Hon. Andrew Gee
- There are 39 students from regional and rural backgrounds in the School’s second cohort, including three First Nations students
Charles Sturt University and Western Sydney University celebrated the official opening of the School of Rural Medicine in Orange on Friday 4 March.
The School is the result of collaboration between Charles Sturt University, Western Sydney University, and the Australian Government through the Joint Program in Medicine (JPM) which aims to enhance access to more local doctors and improved medical services for rural, regional and remote communities.
Charles Sturt Vice-Chancellor Professor Renée Leon was joined by Deputy Prime Minister, The Hon. Barnaby Joyce; the Minister for Regional Health, the Hon. Dr David Gillespie; and the Minister for Defence Personnel and Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Member for Calare, The Hon. Andrew Gee; along with other dignitaries to officially open the JPM.
The School, which delivers the Doctor of Medicine - offered jointly between Charles Sturt and Western Sydney University (WSU) - is part of the Australian Government’s Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network and aims to tackle the shortage of doctors in regional and rural Australia by training medical students to become doctors in rural settings.
The School has received $22 million from the Australian Government to support the Joint Program in Medicine.
The first cohort of Medicine students were welcomed to the School in 2021, with the official opening required to be postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
In February this year the second cohort of Medicine students commenced the five-year course. There are 39 students from rural backgrounds in this cohort, including three First Nations students.
Charles Sturt Vice-Chancellor Professor Renée Leon was delighted with the success the School had achieved in its first 12months.
“There were 824 applicants for the initial intake of 37 Commonwealth Supported Places in 2021 and, as with the 2022 cohort, all commencing students were of regional and rural origin,” Professor Leon said.
“For the second intake, in 2022, applications for admission rose to 922. This is evidence of the high and growing demand for the course and we are doing everything we can to meet that demand.”
Federal Member for Calare and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence personnel, Mr Andrew Gee, said the Joint Program in Medicine will equip 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,” said Minister Gee.
“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 Charles Sturt School of Rural Medicine will play a key role in making sure country people, including those from our region, can become local doctors.
Western Sydney University Vice-Chancellor Professor Barney Glover AO said the last two years of the pandemic have only served to reinforce the importance of our hardworking doctors and healthcare workers and the tremendous impact they have on local communities.
“For over 15 years, Western Sydney University has been addressing the shortage of doctors in the Greater Western Sydney region, so we were delighted to extend that commitment by working with our partners to train more doctors to work in regional and rural Australia – doctors who are deeply connected to the bush and have a unique understanding of local people’s often complex healthcare needs,” said Professor Glover.
“Since it was first announced, the Joint Program in Medicine has enjoyed outstanding support from across all levels of government and our respective institutions.
“We thank our colleagues at Charles Sturt University, the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network, and of course, the Australian Government for this significant investment in Australia’s future medical workforce – we know this program will have a long and lasting impact on the health and wellbeing of our local communities for decades to come.”
The School aims to benefit the people of rural and regional Australia through the provision of more home-grown doctors and improved medical services.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s 2021 report on the health of rural and remote Australians shows the disparity between health outcomes and access to health services for communities in rural and regional Australia in comparison to those living in metropolitan areas, partially a result of the shortage of doctors in rural and remote communities.
The curriculum for the Medicine course has been designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills required to work in all locations.
“The Doctor of Medicine clinical training model will equip our students with knowledge and skills to offer health care across a wide variety of health issues that arise in rural communities. This is then supported by training in speciality areas,” Professor Leon said.
“Charles Sturt University is committed to training highly skilled doctors who have the clinical knowledge to work in both regional and metropolitan communities.”
Planning has commenced for the third cohort of medical students who will undertake their studies in 2023. An information night will be held on Tuesday 29 March 2022 from 6pm–7.30pm.
Professor Leon noted the Rural Health Research Institute – a joint initiative between Charles Sturt and WSU – will be established at Charles Sturt in Orange and will be a major component of the University’s health-related research.