Meet Steven – Doctor of Medicine (Rural Pathway) student

With dreams of becoming a doctor at a young age, Shepparton local and first year medical student Steven Vallance, said his journey into the Rural Pathway program has been an enjoyable experience.

It has given him an opportunity to experience university life, while learning which study techniques work best for him as he develops his own personal identity into becoming a doctor, alongside the benefits of living close to his family.

“My family still live in Kialla which is useful because they are always close by if I need any support, or I can drop in for dinner from time to time,” Steven said.

“Regional cities and their small communities are great for learning to become a doctor because you can make connections more easily.

The University of Melbourne's Melbourne Medical School offers a Rural Pathway option within the Doctor of Medicine program, demonstrating its commitment to rural health.

This pathway caters to students from rural backgrounds who aim to pursue their medical education exclusively in rural settings, contributing to the rural and regional medical workforce.

The Rural Pathway encompasses undergraduate and graduate entry options, with a total of 30 Commonwealth-Supported places available.

Through a partnership with LaTrobe University, there are 15 places specifically reserved for applicants who have completed an undergraduate degree at Latrobe and can demonstrate their rural origins.

“The absolute best of studying locally is the friends that you make, the rural cohort is currently only 30 people, and I don’t believe that I would be able to be associated with the same 30 people while studying in Melbourne.

“Ultimately it is your friends which make attending university each day absolutely enjoyable and really what makes learning medicine significantly easier, as you can spend time with your close knit friends during your recreational time.”

Steven also currently works at Bunnings in Shepparton and plays basketball with a university team at the stadium. He enjoys supporting local businesses and watching his community of Shepparton grow and thrive.

When asked where he sees himself in five years, he said that he would like to be working in a hospital in a regional hub.

“Hopefully, I would be working towards entering a speciality (I’m not sure what I enjoy yet) or doing some locum work in smaller communities. I would hope that I could be able to compare myself to some of the GP's and registrars that teach us, in terms of clinical knowledge and how to manage patients with certain pathologies.” he said.

“If anyone is considering a career as a doctor, and they enjoy working in the country, then they should work their hardest to entering a rural pathway to becoming a doctor. I haven’t even worked as a doctor and have only completed my first six months of med school, and yet I feel more accomplished than I have before.

“Rural Pathways are also great if you are looking to stay close to family, not everyone is happy to move away from home, and studying regionally is a great way to get the experience of going to university while being able to work, save and get support from parents.”

“Studying first year medicine has taught me so much about the career that I look forward to, but also taught me so much about myself and my personal identity as a doctor and a person.

“The key for me is planning what I want to get done in a day and having the determination to get it done so I can look forward to the fun things I can do after learning.”

Applicants need to apply directly to the University of Melbourne and undergo an interview process evaluating their aptitude for medical studies and commitment to rural practice.

Enrolled rural students will experience the same curriculum as the Doctor of Medicine course offered in Melbourne, benefitting from the university's top-ranking status in Australia and medicine and have access to new teaching and accommodation facilities in Shepparton.

Graduate entry applicants in the Rural Pathway are exempt from taking the GAMSAT. Eligibility requirements include completing an undergraduate degree within the past 10 years, providing evidence of rural or regional residence for at least 5 years consecutively or 10 years cumulatively, and possessing a minimum GPA of 5, which may lead to a rural-specific Multi Mini Interview (MMI) invitation.

For further information regarding the program visit:

Doctor of Medicine (Rural Pathway)

Or contact the Rural Clinical School team at

This  story appeared in the Shepparton News on  28 July 2023 here.

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Giacinta Caione