Rural health goes from strength to strength
Rural medical students will soon be learning from brand new educational facilities, purpose-built in regional Victoria.
The University of Melbourne Department of Rural Health, based in Shepparton, is a step closer to realising expansion with construction about to begin on a $6.5 million building project. Local company Moretto Building will construct the student accommodation and expanded teaching spaces while keeping jobs in the region. The expansion will provide accommodation for up to 30 more students, making it a total of 96 beds and a suite of new teaching and learning facilities that will enhance those already available for use by the local community.
The project is a part in a series of programs funded by the Federal Government under the banner of the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network and has been created to address chronic shortages of doctors in regional and rural areas by training students from the regions, in the regions.
University of Melbourne (Shepparton) has partnered with La Trobe University to create an end-to-end rural medical program. In 2019 the first cohort of 15 students enrolled in the new Bachelor Biomedical Science (Medical) Program at La Trobe’s Bendigo or Albury-Wodonga campus and will gain guaranteed entry into the University of Melbourne’s Doctor of Medicine postgraduate program and will commence the Doctor of Medicine in Shepparton 2022 along with an additional 15 graduates students to be selected by the University of Melbourne. The program will enable medical students and graduates to undertake their studies and training in regional Victoria, eliminating the need for them to move to metropolitan areas. Federal Member for Nicholls, Damian Drum, said it was very exciting to celebrate the commencement of yet another project relating to the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network.
“The expansion of on-campus accommodation means almost 100 beds will be available, while the local community will also benefit from some of the new facilities that will be included in the build,” Mr Drum said.
“Once in full-swing, the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network will see about 30 students graduate in Shepparton each and every year with a medical degree, with many then expected to stay in the Goulburn Valley and give back to the local community,"
“I congratulate everyone involved in this latest development and am thrilled the Federal Government played a key part in making this a reality".
University of Melbourne Head of the Melbourne Medical School, Professor John Prins said evidence shows that enrolling students from a rural background and having students undertake long-term rural training, increases the likelihood of rural practice.
“The roll-out of the network means that local students will be able to study and train to become a doctor and provide supervised medical services to rural patients. The recruitment and retention of a secure health workforce in rural and regional Australia is essential for health equity,” Professor Prins said.
La Trobe University’s Provost of the College of Science, Health and Engineering, Professor Robert Pike, welcomed the start of the building project.
“We’ve seen our Biomedical Science (medical) students apply themselves with passion and enthusiasm to their studies over the last two years, as they prepare to move to Shepparton at the end of this year,” Professor Pike said.
“This expansion will make it easier for this program’s first cohort – and many future cohorts – to live and study in Shepparton, as they develop the skills required to fill regional and rural health workforce needs”.
Construction will begin in March with the intention of housing all the new students for the start of the 2022 academic year.