A need to act on rural doctor education

Charles Sturt and La Trobe Universities today welcomed the Federal National Party's recommitment to the Murray-Darling Medical School (MDMS) at the National's Federal Council meeting held in Canberra last weekend.

To overcome the increasing doctor shortage faced by an aging rural population, the universities have said they will "continue to work with Government", urging a commitment of funds "to develop this important project for regional Australia".

The universities' comment comes after the National Party reaffirmed its commitment to the MDMS. The National Party as part of its policy platform in 'Our Plan for Regional Australia' said in relation to the MDMS:

'In government we will support this initiative, aimed at providing 120 places per year initially, increasing to 180 places in following years, as well as providing teaching infrastructure in hospitals, general practices and community health clinics across the region.'

The universities are working together to deliver the innovative medical school - designed specifically to train doctors who will live and work in rural and regional Australia. 

Click here for more on the MDMS

La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar said he looked forward to continuing discussions with the Government to see the Murray-Darling Medical School begin admitting regional students from 2017.

'We are pleased to see that the National Party have again reaffirmed their commitment to the establishment of the Murray Darling Medical School,' Professor Dewar said.

'The Nationals have been clear that they intend to honour their election commitments with the Australian people and we will work with them to ensure the MDMS becomes a reality.The universities are working together to deliver the innovative medical school - designed specifically to train doctors who will live and work in rural and regional Australia.

'Rural doctor shortages are well known to people living in rural and regional Australia. The current model of medical education sees students studying predominantly in capital cities and in large metropolitan hospitals.

'They don't end up working outside the capital cities and clearly this does not address the ongoing shortage of rural doctors,' Professor Dewar said.

'The MDMS is crucial in ensuring that young people in rural Australia can study medicine in our regional areas without having to relocate to the city.'

Charles Sturt University Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Vann also commended the announcement.

'Regional universities like Charles Sturt University, and La Trobe University's Bendigo campus are achieving rural enrolment rates well above 70 percent. More than 75 percent of these rural health graduates are retained in rural employment after graduation. 

'Regional universities are creating an effective workforce pipeline enabling rural people to train in rural areas and then continue to live and work in regional communities,' he said.

The Murray Darling Medical School in summary:

  • A high rural intake (at least 80 %) to maximise the likelihood of graduates choosing rural practice
  • An undergraduate program to help recruit rural high school students before they have left the regions
  • A medical degree delivered in rural areas so that students do not have to relocate to a metropolitan area
  • Training provided across multiple campuses and communities within the rural region
  • Training medical students together with dental, pharmacy, nursing and allied health students so health and medical graduates are equipped for rural, team based care
  • A rural specific curriculum with emphasis on generalism including procedural training and skills required by rural and remote medical practitioners.

Click here for more on the MDMS and Bendigo


Professor John Dewar – Vice-Chancellor of La Trobe University.                                             Please call Ernest Raetz on 0412 261 919 to arrange an interview.

Professor Garry Marchant ­– Acting Vice-Chancellor of Charles Sturt University
Please call Mark O'Brien on 0427 414 772 to arrange an interview.