Rural medical students key to improving rural doctor shortage

The second cohort of students to undertake the entire Doctor of Medicine (MD Rural Pathway) in a rural setting has commenced at the University of Melbourne’s Shepparton Campus.

The Doctor of Medicine (Rural Pathway) at the University of Melbourne is in its second year, training future rural doctors.

The degree is offered as part of Murray Darling Medical School Network and entry to the degree includes a collaboration between the University of Melbourne and La Trobe University to provide regional students an end-to-end rural medical pathway specifically aimed at retaining medical graduates in regional Australia.

All students entering the University of Melbourne Rural Pathway have previously lived for at least five years consecutively or 10 years cumulatively in a rural location.

Head of the Department of Rural Health at the University of Melbourne Professor Julian Wright is delighted that the Rural Pathway program is in its second year, and said: "This program will change the rural medical workforce landscape as more students have the option to study medicine through our end-to-end delivery of the MD curriculum in a regional setting.

"This is a really important initiative that is benefiting both the students and the rural communities in which they will practice. It is great to witness the development of these students as they become terrific medical practitioners.

“Importantly, we are seeing an increase in rural preference from our students, and we already have many University of Melbourne Rural Clinical School alumni working across regional Victoria” Professor Wright said.

Indian born twins Senita and Menita Jaji are both qualified pharmacists but decided to make the move to medicine after experiencing the welcoming nature of rural Victorian life.

L-R: Twins Menita and Senita Jaji are undertaking Doctor of Medicine (MD Rural Pathway) at University's Shepparton Campus.

“After having lived and worked in rural Victoria, both my sister and I have experienced the sense of belonging to a community where you are valued. There is the potential to forge strong relationships within the local community,” Menita said.

“I believe rural medicine will be incredibly rewarding in the sense that I will be able to assist a community in their times of need and shortages and help people access good quality health care regardless of their location.”

Senita echoes these sentiments, and said: “The Doctor of Medicine (Rural Pathway) offers a great opportunity to gain experience in a wide variety of cases and clinical settings. My experience as a pharmacist in a rural/regional area, highlighted the inequalities that exist in relation to access to high quality healthcare services. This is my opportunity to make a difference to this situation.”

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