Regional hub more value than school

I note the article in the Bendigo Advertiser dated 28th September regarding the proposed Murray Darling Medical School, and the comment that the University of Melbourne's rural clinical school bases some students in Shepparton in the third year of their degree.

In 2017, the University of Melbourne's Rural Clinical School has 18 second-year medical students spending their entire academic year at Goulburn Valley Health in medicine, surgery, emergency department and outpatient clinics, 28 third-year medical students completing some or all of their rotations in mental health, child and adolescent health, women's health and aged care, and eight final-year medical students completing trainee internships at Goulburn Valley Health in their final weeks prior to graduation.

Melbourne's rural clinical school also placed 12 second year students and 10 final year students at Bendigo Health. Many of these students already go on to pursue their medical internships in our region.

Our clinical school is very well supported by Goulburn Valley Health and Bendigo Health to deliver high class medical education for our Shepparton and Bendigo-based medical students; this must not be put at risk. 

Were the Murray Darling Medical School to proceed, it would take Commonwealth Supported Places from existing medical schools; there is no suggestion that we need more Australian medical students.

As the Director of Medical Student Education for the University of Melbourne's Rural Clinical School, I believe that significant safeguards would be needed to ensure that the presence of any additional medical students in Shepparton and Bendigo did not detract in any way from the educational experience of existing Shepparton and Bendigo-based medical students.

No such safeguards have been given, or discussed with our clinical school.

The University of Melbourne's Department of Rural Health, has recently received federal funding to establish a regional training hub for junior doctors.

This hub has the specific aim of increasing opportunities for junior doctor training in the region.

Currently such opportunities are not sufficient for all the doctors graduating from our rural clinical school to stay in the region to work, live, and gain medical experience in the early years of their medical careers.

I believe that this initiative, and the similar regional training hubs across Australia, including Monash University's hub based in Bendigo, are much more likely to increase recruitment and retention of doctors to our region that the establishment of another Australian medical school.

Professor Julian Wright, University of Melbourne

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