The University of Sydney’s School of Rural Health (SRH) is a rural clinical school that has been educating medical students in regional New South Wales since 2001. Currently, students can complete the third or fourth year of their degree at SRH campuses, located in Dubbo and Orange.
Earlier this year, funding to expand the School was announced in the Federal Budget, so from as early as 2021, students will be able to enrol in the full four-year medical degree at the Dubbo campus. It’s been hailed as a huge win for the region, as it will give more students the chance to study in a rural setting and create more teaching opportunities, which will in turn attract more health professionals to work in the community.
Head of the School of Rural Health, Associate Professor Mark Arnold, is a rheumatologist who was previously a consultant at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney. He moved to Dubbo in 2013, and now practises in Dubbo, Orange and Gloucester.
“Establishing a full graduate medical school in Dubbo is a major investment and will have positive flow on effects for the region and our medical workforce. With the new facilities at Orange Health Service and the redevelopment of Dubbo Hospital, there are many opportunities for career diversity and advancement. It makes the region an attractive place to study, live and practice,” Mark said.
The graduate medical school will increase student numbers in Dubbo from 32 students per year, to an estimated 100 per year. In Orange, the School of Rural Health will continue to offer the third or fourth year of the medical program to 32 students each year, who will live and study in the city.
The School of Rural Health is also a driver of the new Integrated Regional Training Hubs in Dubbo and Orange. The Hubs will create new supervised training positions in areas such as oncology, paediatrics, and emergency medicine. It forms part of an overall picture that sees Central West NSW becoming a leader in medical education, aiming to offer an ‘end-to-end’ approach where students can complete all their training from student to specialist.
“The Rural Training Hubs will obviate the need for junior doctors to return to metropolitan hospitals for specialist training, and thereby help them to remain in the rural environment. If they return to the city for specialist training, they tend to stay there, and we lose them,” Mark said.
The School of Rural Health, along with the Regional Training Hubs and the Western NSW Local Health District, will be an exhibitor at the 15th National Rural Health Conference being held in Hobart in March 2019. The School hopes to showcase the great opportunities available for health professionals in Central West NSW now and into the future.
The University of Sydney School of Rural Health is a sponsor of the 15th National Rural Health Conference.