Training tomorrow’s health workforce in regional Victoria

  • Two medical students with training dummy

As Australia’s oldest and largest rural clinical school, our commitment to nurturing a sustainable regional health workforce has never wavered. In 2022, as Monash Rural Health prepares to celebrate a milestone 30th anniversary, our core priority remains the same: training Australia’s future health workforce and supporting the next generation of doctors to live, work and train rurally.

Building on our 30-year track record of providing world-class medical training in regional Victoria, the work of our two regional training hubs is key to delivering on this mission. Our two hubs, based in Gippsland and north-west Victoria, perform a key linking role in the medical training pipeline and address rural workforce shortages by optimising career pathways for junior doctors.

Last year our hubs used innovative ways to provide unique training and development opportunities to keep doctors rural. These included: a pilot program for paediatric trainees which will enable them to complete half of their training regionally; sponsoring 30 young doctors to complete the Australian Medical Association’s Emerging Leaders program; and hosting the inaugural Doctors for Regional Innovation, Vision, Excellence, Research and Scholarship (DRIVERS) symposium.

In 2022, we welcome the return of face-to-face events, as this will enable the regional training hubs to provide a full suite of opportunities for rural medical students and junior doctors to build their professional networks; participate in education, research and leadership training; and get ready to apply for intern positions.

Notably in 2022, our inaugural cohort of Murray–Darling Medical School Network end-to-end students will begin their first year of clinical training and have their first experiences of the delivery of health care in regional communities. Their experience will be strengthened by the support of our local communities. After establishing our Community Advisory Committees in Gippsland, Bendigo and Mildura in 2021, we are excited to continue working with these groups to ensure our teaching is meeting local healthcare needs and to introduce students to all the community has to offer, for a truly enriching experience.

For our students in placements during Victoria’s Pandemic Code Brown, it was an experience like no other. These students were witness to a strained health system, professional burnout and a population recovering from the physical and mental impact of two years of pandemic living.

We know this will give our future workforce unique insights into contemporary health service delivery. They will have a new appreciation of the need for strong, multidisciplinary teams – more so than ever in regional and rural healthcare settings. Already we are seeing our students step up for the challenge to transform the delivery of care – from providing Hospital in the Home services, taking on additional roles in the surge workforce and working in community vaccination clinics.

In 2022, we will continue to grow opportunities to serve unmet health needs in some of our most disadvantaged or remote communities – such as restarting our successful community placement program in disability, community and justice settings and, in partnership with the University of Sydney’s Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health, provide critical social work and speech pathology services in the Mallee region through new service-learning placements.

Our students and alumni are committed to improving the health and wellbeing outcomes of regional communities. Building on our work over the last 30 years in advancing rural health through workforce education and development, research and community engagement remains our vision for 2022 and beyond.

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