Medical and health students who would normally be forced study in Canberra could soon benefit from more rural training opportunities in southern New South Wales, thanks to $17 million in Commonwealth grants.
The University of Canberra (UC), in collaboration with the Australian National University (ANU), today received the funding to establish training facilities on existing hospital sites, as well as student accommodation in Bega, Cooma and Moruya.
UC Faculty of Health Dean Diane Gibson said the funding would provide further training opportunities for students by providing valuable hands-on experience in rural and regional settings.
“We are committed to serving the southern NSW region, and this project allows us to build on this commitment,” Professor Gibson said.
“One in five students at the University of Canberra comes from rural and regional NSW – UC is very much a university of, and for, the region.”
Professor Gibson said the facilities aimed to help students become “more rounded health professionals”.
“There is generally a shortage of health workforce in rural and regional Australia,” she said.
“By and large the cities do much better in terms of their access to health workers.
“I think this will be a very positive experience, not only for the students but also for the staff working in the regions.”
ANU Medical School’s Rural Clinical School head Amanda Barnard said the funding would also help support regional workforce development.
“The project will enhance the successful Rural Clinical School program at ANU, which has provided medical student training in southeast NSW for 10 years, with a number of graduates returning to work as rural GPs and specialists,” Professor Barnard said.
‘Accommodation crucial to attracting future rural students’
ANU Rural Medical School student Gage Osborne is based in Cooma and said more accommodation in the region would open the door for more students to undertake a rural placement.
“Classically some people have had to pay off their own backs to get accommodation in clinical placements, which obviously makes it very difficult,” he said.
“You can always do with better facilities I suppose, but as far as the teaching goes we’ve already got quite a good situation.
“But allowing future students to come here and expanding it to allow other health disciplines, I think it can only be a good thing.”
Construction of the facilities is expected to begin next year.