Bendi-go Away

16 October 2017

The University of Melbourne is currently resisting the proposal for a new regional medical school in Bendigo, to be jointly run by La Trobe University and Charles Sturt University.

Establishing the Murray Darling Medical School would mean that the University of Melbourne and Monash University-run Rural Clinical School would no longer be the only option for medicine students in Bendigo. The Rural Clinical School has provided an opportunity for students to study medicine in Central Victoria for more than ten years.

A spokesperson from the University of Melbourne said a new school is not the answer as students who train in rural settings return to metropolitan areas to specialise.

“We do not think an additional Medical School is the answer. Our view is that the Federal Government should work with the sector to develop viable postgraduate specialist training programs in the regions so doctors can remain in those settings while pursuing the next level of their career. These programs would need to address the range of reasons that doctors do not choose a career in a rural setting, which are not all linked to where they have trained.”

The University has said it will continue to oppose the establishment of the school and continue to work with the government to progress the delivery of “viable” post graduate specialist training programs in rural areas.

A spokesperson for the Australian Medical Students Association offered a different solution.

“An expansion of specialist and general practice training in rural and regional settings has the potential to both address the current training bottleneck as well as the lack of medical doctors in rural areas,” they said.

La Trobe University claims the school will help address a critical shortage of regional doctors and has called on the Federal Government to provide $50 million of funding over four years to help get the Murray Darling Medical School up and running as soon as possible.

Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of New South Wales and renowned immunologist, Professor John Dwyer, revealed that he is strongly in favour of the Murray Darling Medical School in an opinion piece for The Australian earlier this year.

“We know that when students from the country must spend years in major cities to earn their medical degree, the majority do not return to country Australia to practice. This is understandable, indeed predictable,” he said.

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