- Professor Lesley Forster, Charles Sturt University's inaugural Dean of Rural Medicine, was announced as a Member of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours
- According to her citation, Professor Forster was acknowledged for commitment to education, public health, and medical administration
- The School of Rural Medicine, run in partnership with Western Sydney University, will welcome its first cohort of students in 2021
Charles Sturt University's inaugural Dean of Rural Medicine, Professor Lesley Forster (pictured), was on Monday announced as a Member of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
Professor Forster is the head of the University's School of Rural Medicine, run in partnership with Western Sydney University, which will welcome its first cohort of students to Charles Sturt In Orange in 2021.
According to Professor Forster's citation, her acknowledgement was in recognition of her 'significant service to tertiary education, to rural public health, and to medical administration'.
Professor Forster said she felt fortunate to have been able to work in positions which have enabled her to contribute to the advancement of rural and regional healthcare.
“Giving rural kids the opportunity to study medicine in the country, close to their families and friends for support and where they can afford to study and become rural doctors, is a cause I am passionate about," she said.
“I am really looking forward to further strengthening that cause when Charles Sturt University welcomes its first cohort of students into its School of Rural Medicine in Orange next year. The Doctor of Medicine program will provide regional Australia with the kinds of highly-skilled medical professionals I and many others have been hoping for for a long time.
“I’m really honoured that anyone should feel I should receive such a special award for doing something I love.”
In November 2019 Professor Forster joined Charles Sturt from the University of New South Wales 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.
She 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.
Professor Forster's career has also had a strong focus on Indigenous medical education, and she 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.
The Joint Program in Medicine — a 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.