It comes after both Universities recently announced a new tertiary education partnership to help ensure communities in the region have access to a range of services. The first goal of the partnership is to address the rural doctor shortage.
Dr Webber is an internationally-recognised policy expert in rural health workforce issues.
She was formerly the Chief Executive Officer of Rural Health Workforce Australia, the national peak agency responsible for developing strategies to increase doctor and health professional numbers in rural and remote areas.
Dr Webber also served as Australia’s representative on the World Health Organisation’s Expert Panel that developed international guidelines for the recruitment and retention of health professionals in remote and rural areas.
The panel undertook an extensive research program to identify the strategies that are most effective in recruiting and retaining health professionals in rural areas and developed a set of global policy recommendations on what countries need to do. The recommendations form the basis of the Murray-Darling Medical School proposal.
‘Dr Webber is a leading authority on rural doctor shortages and has worked with other international experts on how we can address rural doctor shortages,’ said Professor Vann.
‘Her appointment to this role is an important step in advancing the Murray-Darling Medical School proposal,’ said Professor Dewar.
Dr Webber said she looked forward to working with both Universities.
‘We have had shortages of rural doctors in rural and remote Australia for more than forty years. We have communities that don’t have access to a doctor at all, or if they do, have very long wait times to see a doctor,’ said Dr Webber.
‘Many of our rural doctors are getting older and wanting to retire - but how can they when they can’t recruit a new doctor to replace them?
‘The Murray-Darling Medical School allows a regional solution to the region’s problems.
‘Relying on city-based medical schools to train doctors for rural areas isn’t working. We need a secure pipeline of students who will work in the regions after graduation,’ she said.
‘Charles Sturt and La Trobe Universities are the two largest providers of regional education in Victoria and New South Wales. Together, their capacity to deliver on this is impressive.
‘The two Vice-Chancellors have a real vision for a different kind of medical school that serves the needs of rural communities. They are passionate about finding practical solutions for their rural and regional communities.
‘I look forward to working with them and the region’s health services on this innovative regional project.’ said Dr Webber.
Dr Webber’s role is to support the Interim Board to advance the proposal and establish the Murray-Darling Medical School. Dr Webber will work with faculty across the two universities’ rural health campuses as part of her work.
She will travel extensively across the regions consulting with rural doctors, regional health networks and communities to identify opportunities to expand clinical and medical training capacity to support rural students enrolled in the program.
La Trobe University
Tim Mitchell 0437 457 780 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Charles Sturt University
Wes Ward 0417 125 795 or email@example.com
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