$7M medical investment to solve doctor shortage

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LA TROBE University has welcomed a $7M investment from the Federal Government to support delivery of a new end-to-end rural medical school in partnership with the University of Melbourne, located in Shepparton and other regional areas including Bendigo and Albury-Wodonga, which is designed to help solve Victoria’s rural doctor shortage.

It will deliver the construction and refurbishment of specialist teaching labs in Albury-Wodonga and Bendigo labs, new equipment and the appointment of six new specialist teaching and technical staff at both locations.

La Trobe University vice-chancellor, Professor John Dewar said the senator’s commitment was a welcome investment in regional communities that would make a real and lasting difference.

“The Federal Government has today announced a $7M dollar investment into the strong health, resilience and self-reliance of regional Australians,” Professor Dewar said.

“This funding allocation will ensure we can deliver on our long-standing commitment to deliver more locally-trained doctors for rural, regional and remote communities.”

From next year a cohort of 15 La Trobe students, co-selected collaboratively by both universities, will enter La Trobe’s new three-year bachelor of biomedical science (medical) undergraduate degree delivered at La Trobe University’s Bendigo and Albury-Wodonga campuses. Those who successfully complete the course will then gain guaranteed entry into the University of Melbourne’s doctor of medicine (rural) postgraduate degree, to be based in Shepparton.

The selection process will target students with rural backgrounds who are seeking a career as a rural doctor. Both courses will be taught in regional Victoria.

Professor Dewar said the university was on track to begin teaching the course from early next year.

“Since the initiative was given the green light in May this year, we have worked closely with our collaboration partners, the University of Melbourne, to get this program underway. We’ve had strong interest from schools and students from across regional Australia to take part in this innovative program. Prospective students will soon learn if they’ve been selected for an interview; those who are successful will earn entry to the class of 2019,” Professor Dewar said.