Up to an extra 30 medical students each year will begin end-to-end rural medical training at the University of Wollongong Shoalhaven’s rural training site in Nowra, as part of a $90 million investment from the Albanese Government.
The investment will extend existing medical classrooms, equipment and facilities, as well as provide up to 15 new medical Commonwealth Supported Places that will be matched by the University of Wollongong, to teach in the rural campuses in the Shoalhaven and on placement across rural NSW.
Evidence shows that doctors who train in rural and regional Australia are more likely to stay and practise in rural and regional Australia after they graduate. The University of Wollongong is a leader in the provision of medical training in rural areas with over 40% of graduates going on to live and work in regional centres and rurally.
Development of the new program will begin from 2024, bringing economic and social benefits for the Nowra community, with an influx of staff and students living and working locally.
The University of Wollongong is one of six universities with existing medical schools that have been selected through a competitive grants process to receive capital, establishment and recurrent costs to support the new facilities and programs.
Supporting high quality rural health training is one way the Albanese Government is making a measurable impact on the uneven distribution of the health workforce.
Quotes attributable to Ms Phillips, Member for Gilmore:
“When we came to government, nine years of cuts and neglect to Medicare meant it had never been harder or more expensive to see a doctor, particularly for people in rural and regional NSW.
“We are facing an absolute GP crisis here on the South Coast that has been spiralling out of control for far too long.
“I’ve been hearing from local GPs for years that one of the biggest issues for them is recruiting and retaining local doctors – they have been calling out for improved incentives for doctors to work in regional areas like ours, and I am delighted to be part of a government that is finally delivering this.
“This announcement of additional rural medical training places comes on top of our promise to halve the HECS debt of doctors and nurse practitioners who live and work in regional areas for long enough, another initiative that was really welcomed by local doctors.
“The largest investment in bulk billing in the history of Medicare is making it cheaper to see a doctor and this local investment will make it easier to get in to see one.
“The Albanese Government is tapping into the talent already here on the South Coast. I am so thrilled that through this investment we will unearth more great doctors, eager to train and work in our community.”
Quotes attributable to Professor Zsuzsoka Kecskes (Dean of Medicine, UOW):
“UOW is committed to a strong rural focus in our medical training program. Each year we know that our alumni will choose to live, work and contribute to rural communities which we are very proud of.”
“This investment by government allows UOW to continue to invest in rural communities to ensure high quality medical training for our students, which is a strong pathway to addressing the medical workforce shortages in rural areas.”
“UOW commends the government on initiatives like this where universities can work with rural communities to embed medical training and ensure that students continue to learn from and work with communities to address workforce needs”.