Go rural for an enhanced health career

Strengthening healthcare in rural and regional areas has never been more important, with additional pressure from ongoing natural disasters, staff shortages and the continuing effects of COVID-19.

University of Melbourne graduate Dr Michael Duff. Michael became a rural doctor by studying a Bachelor of Biomedicine and the Doctor of Medicine at the University of Melbourne.

Young people living rurally with an interest in health now have the option to access world-leading education at the University of Melbourne, to bring their expertise back to the country and make a difference.

With a strong commitment to addressing rural healthcare shortages, the University’s Department of Rural Health launched the Doctor of Medicine (Rural Pathway) in 2022.

The pathway provides students from a rural background with the opportunity to undertake their medical education wholly in a rural setting in Shepparton, to ultimately become a part of regional Australia's healthcare workforce.

Several places with the Doctor of Medicine (Rural Pathway) are reserved for graduates of La Trobe University’s Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences (Medical) degree based in Bendigo and Wodonga under a formal partnership.

University of Melbourne graduate Dr Michael Duff is helping to strengthen the rural healthcare workforce as a doctor for Ballarat Health Services.

Michael grew up regionally in Bright, and after high school studied a Bachelor of Biomedicine also at University of Melbourne.

The unique Melbourne Curriculum encourages broad exposure to a range of disciplines early in your studies, followed by postgraduate specialisation at the right time.

“The Curriculum enables us to be more well-rounded professionals for interdisciplinary health practice and prepares us to solve some of the most complex health challenges of tomorrow that require broader and different ways of thinking,” he said.

After exploring his interests, Michael decided to follow his passion and become a doctor. While studying the Doctor of Medicine through the Rural Clinical School, Michael spent one year in Wangaratta and two in Ballarat.

"I was initially apprehensive to move out of the city and change to a rural lifestyle, but now I couldn’t recommend it more,” he said.

“In the city you’re often listening and observing, whereas in the country you’re a more active member of the team contributing to the healthcare and well-being of patients.”

After graduating, Michael has benefited from the opportunities offered to him in regional Victoria. He is currently doing rotations in Ballarat, allowing him to experience first-hand a range of specialties including general surgery, diagnostics, trauma, emergency medicine and paediatrics.

“Working and learning rurally has vastly accelerated my knowledge and I’ve gained more experience than my city counterparts,” he said.

“A highlight for me was being given a rare and amazing medical opportunity early on to be the first assistant for caesarean procedures.”

Beyond medicine, the University’s range of postgraduate health courses including nursing, physiotherapy, dentistry, optometry, and social work provide opportunities for completing rural placements.

With the support of the Australian Government, the University’s Department of Rural Health facilitates and financially supports health students to find rural placements, with more than 50 locations across Victoria through the Going Rural Health program.

For more information about health study pathway options go to: cop.unimelb.edu.au

Doctor of Medicine (Rural Pathway) students at the University of Melbourne, Shepparton Campus.