Government Budget initiative to train and retain country doctors

An Australian Government investment of more than $95 million to set up the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network will transform rural medical school training, enabling students to undertake most of their education and training in rural areas to provide a continuum for doctors to learn, train and work in the regions.

The Minister for Rural Health, Senator Bridget McKenzie, visited Charles Sturt
University in Bathurst post-Budget which, in partnership with Western Sydney University, is one of the universities with longstanding roots in the Murray-Darling that will be involved in
the network.

“Charles Sturt University, in partnership with Western Sydney University, will provide
country kids the opportunity to become country doctors through a comprehensive
education, training and clinical experience program,” Minister McKenzie said.

“It focuses on supporting teaching, recruitment and retention of medical practitioners in
country areas, like Bathurst and Orange.

“Students will begin to study through the network in 2021. Once all the rural medical
school programs are up and running, approximately 140 medical students will study
each year.

“The Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network is part of a 2018-19 Budget investment
of $550 million in the Stronger Rural Health Strategy to improve access to health
services for people living in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia.

“The Strategy also includes options for medical training after graduation. Junior doctors
will be supported to gain clinical experience in the private sector and primary care
settings with a strong emphasis on training in rural areas.

“It will provide significant benefits to Central West communities. In particular, this will
mean a larger university presence, new infrastructure, and professional support over
the longer term. Local hospitals and medical practices in the district will benefit from
rural doctors who have come from the regions, trained in the regions and stay in the
regions.

“Students living in Orange and neighbouring communities will be able to continue living
in the area, while studying and training as part of their medical degree at the Charles
Sturt University campus.

“This means students can focus more on their education and training without the
pressures and expenses associated with relocating to capital cities where medical
schools are generally located.

“The new network also provides students the option of studying and training in more
than 20 regional and rural communities.

“The universities involved in the network will have the opportunity to participate in a
new way of delivering medical education to build up the health sector in regional and
rural Australia.

“The new Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network is an innovative and bold initiative
which will provide the next generation of rural doctors with the opportunity to study
and practise in their local community.”

A number of programs to better manage medical graduate supply and support better
workforce outcomes are linked to the strategy. These will be managed by the
Department of Education and Training. More information is available at:
https://www.education.gov.au/HERI-Budget-Overview-18-19