- Dr Lesley Forster announced as Dean of Rural Medicine for the Charles Sturt School of Rural Medicine
- Extensive experience in medical administration and education to prove invaluable to Joint Program in Medicine
- First cohort of students to be welcomed to Charles Sturt in Orange in February 2021
Dr Lesley Forster (pictured) has been announced as the inaugural Dean of Rural Medicine for Charles Sturt University’s (Charles Sturt) School of Rural Medicine.
The Joint Program in Medicine, run in partnership with Western Sydney University, will welcome its first cohort of students at Charles Sturt in Orange in February 2021.
At its helm will be Dr Forster, who commenced in the role on Wednesday 6 November 2019 and is based at the University’s Orange campus.
She joins Charles Sturt from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) where she held the position of Associate Dean (Rural Health) and Head of the Rural Clinical School, which taught more than 250 medical students per year across all disciplines.
Dr Forster has extensive experience in regional and rural medicine, including with the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Broken Hill, and in Orange, Bathurst and Wagga Wagga.
She has a strong focus on Indigenous medical education and was Convener of the Special Entry to Medicine Program for Indigenous students at UNSW.
She was also previously the Director of Medical Administration at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, and established the NSW Trauma System and Retrieval Services, and the Delineation of Roles in Hospitals.
Charles Sturt Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Vann said Dr Forster’s appointment confirms the University’s commitment to building a vibrant and successful medical school that delivers better health outcomes for regional and rural Australia.
“The School of Rural Medicine will provide a unique opportunity for students to not only develop their skills in regional Australia, but to work in regional Australia,” Professor Vann said.
“Dr Forster’s wealth of experience in many aspects of medicine – from administration to education – will be invaluable in ensuring the provision of quality graduates to service regional Australia’s healthcare needs into the future.
“Charles Sturt University is delighted to welcome her aboard as the first Dean of Rural Medicine, and we look forward to seeing the School prosper under her guidance.”
Dr Forster said the School of Rural Medicine will change the way medicine is taught and practised in country areas by training doctors in the bush for practice in the bush.
“The course’s curriculum and additional vocational programs will steer students towards opportunities to work in regional Australia at the completion of their studies,” she said.
“Charles Sturt University has a proud history of providing opportunities to regional students and producing industry-leading graduates in healthcare professions.
“I am excited to oversee a School which will not only enable students to develop their skills in regional areas, but encourage them to remain there as they forge their careers in medicine.”
Dean of Western Sydney University’s School of Medicine Professor Annemarie Hennessy congratulated Dr Forster on her new role.
“Western Sydney University is excited about Dr Forster’s appointment and her capacity to lead the Charles Sturt University component of the Joint Program in Medicine,” she said.
The five-year undergraduate degree will be taught at the $22 million purpose-built Academic and Research Hub at Charles Sturt in Orange, which will house learning spaces and staff offices, an Indigenous Student Centre, a floor dedicated to health research, and additional meeting rooms.
In October 2019 the University announced it will also establish clinical training facilities and a new research institute at the new Bloomfield Private Medical Centre in Orange.
Many of the School of Rural Medicine’s lecturers, tutors and supervisors will be practising medical doctors and allied health professionals, with much of the students’ third, fourth and fifth years to be spent on placements in clinical settings to help consolidate learning.
Applications to study the course will open through the Universities Admissions Centre in April 2020. Prospective students must register for and complete the University Clinical Aptitude Test as part of the application process.
Dr Forster will take over from the interim Head of School for the Joint Program in Medicine Professor Amanda Barnard.
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