The Murray Darling Medical School proposed by Charles Sturt University (CSU) and La Trobe University now has strong local representation in the new parliament, according to CSU Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Vann.
Professor Vann congratulated Nationals deputy leader Mr Barnaby Joyce, assistant health minister Senator Fiona Nash, assistant finance minister Mr Michael McCormack, assistant education minister Ms Sussan Ley, Nationals senate whip Senator Brigit McKenzie and Nationals whip in the house of representatives Mr Mark Coulton on their appointments.
“With the Nationals’ election commitment to support the establishment of the Murray Darling Medical School (MDMS), and the appointment of these strong rural voices to senior positions within the new parliament, we’re closer than ever to solving rural doctor shortages in our communities,” he said.
Professor Vann said the current approach to medical training was not giving rural Australians the same healthcare as those living in major cities.
“Rural and regional communities have around half the doctors compared to major cities, and suffer poorer health outcomes as a result,” he said.
“All the evidence shows that educating rural students at regional universities is the single most effective strategy for growing our rural medical workforce, yet we have the absurd situation where thousands of rural students are missing out on places in medical school every year.
“The Nationals have listened carefully to all the arguments, and have come up with the right solution for rural and regional Australians.
“We look forward to working with the new government to establish a new Murray Darling Medical School for rural and regional Australians.”
The proposed MDMS would be a joint-venture between the two universities, with students based at CSU in Orange and Wagga Wagga and La Trobe University in Bendigo, and a specific remit to address rural medical workforce shortages.
The universities have guaranteed a rural student intake of at least 80 per cent to maximise the likelihood of graduates choosing rural practice and an undergraduate program to help recruit rural high school graduates before they have left the regions.
Training would be provided across multiple campuses and communities within the rural region and students would train together with dental, pharmacy, nursing and allied health students so health and medical graduates are equipped for rural, team based care.
Thr curriculum would be rural-specific with an emphasis on generalism, including procedural training
and skills required by rural and remote medical practitioners.
Professor Vann said the governance structures for the new school were progressing well, and work has commenced on the rural entry criteria and medical curriculum.
“The Murray Darling Medical School will be ready to go as soon as the Government gives approval,” he said.