Statement on AMA medical workforce plan

La Trobe University welcomes the Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) focus on the need to address the chronic doctor shortage in regional and rural Australia.

We are particularly pleased with the AMA’s emphasis on the enrolment of more students from rural and regional areas and on training being provided in the regions.

While the AMA’s approach is a step in the right direction, we believe improved health outcomes for rural and regional Australians can be better achieved by establishing a dedicated, rurally-focused medical school.

Rural and regional communities have been fighting hard to ensure that, like their city cousins, they have access to doctors.

Communities are well aware of this important issue and the need for action.

La Trobe University has been advocating for the need to address doctor shortages for years.

The Murray Darling Medical School will offer a full, six-year undergraduate program rather than the one year taster suggested by the AMA, with a commitment to an 80 percent minimum intake of rural, regional and Indigenous students.

The AMA’s plan rightly recognises that selecting more medical students with rural backgrounds and giving graduates an early taste of rural practice can have a profound effect on medical workforce distribution.

The Murray Darling Medical School will play a significant role in ensuring a strong medical workforce in the regions, with improved health outcomes for rural and regional communities.