| May 17, 2018

Government Budget initiative to train and retain country doctors

The Coalition Government is transforming the way we train and retain doctors in regional Australia with an investment of more than $95 million for the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network. 

Through the Stronger Rural Health Strategy, the Coalition Government are flipping the current training model and establishing a continuum for local students to undertake the majority of their medical training in the regions.

The Minister for Rural Health, Senator Bridget McKenzie, accompanied by Federal Member for Murray, Damian Drum toured the University of Melbourne, Shepparton campus today. The University has longstanding roots in the Murray-Darling and will be involved in the network.

“The University of Melbourne, in co-operation with La Trobe and Monash Universities, will provide country kids with a comprehensive education, training and clinical experience program—giving them the knowledge and skills they need to become country doctors without leaving their homes,” Minister McKenzie said.

Federal Member for Murray, Damian Drum said the National party have been working with Australian universities for a number of years to create the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network and offer regional students the opportunity to study medicine in the regions.

“This result has come from hard work and unwavering dedication by National party Ministers, who have been fighting for many years to deliver this Network. The new Network will deliver great results for the Goulburn Valley and Shepparton and I’d like to congratulate Fiona Nash, David Gillespie and Bridget McKenzie for this fantastic outcome,” Mr Drum said.
Students will begin to study through the network in 2021 and once all the rural medical school programs are up and running, approximately 140 medical students will commence their studies each year.

“It will provide significant benefits to the local Shepparton community and more broadly across Australia, as more country doctors complete their training and begin working in regional general practices and hospitals,” Mr Drum said.

“The network will also 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 will stay in the regions.

“Students living in Shepparton and neighbouring communities will be able to continue living in the area while studying and training as part of their medical degree at the University of Melbourne 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 study and training opportunities for students in more than 20 regional and rural communities. This includes a new and exciting pathway being developed between the University of Melbourne and La Trobe University for Bendigo and Albury-Wodonga.

“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.”

Minister McKenzie said 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.

“Our comprehensive Stronger Rural Health Strategy will support 3,000 additional specialist GPs and 3,000 extra nurses and allied health professionals in rural general practices over the next decade, by focusing on teaching, recruitment and retention of medical practitioners in country communities, like Shepparton,” Minister McKenzie said.

“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.”

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.

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