Welcome to Shane Boyer

The Department of Rural Health welcomes Shane Boyer as the Manager, Regional Medical Programs at the Goulburn Valley Regional Training Hub.

Shane Boyer’s passion for skilling up health practitioners in regional Victoria has been a career focus of his for almost 30 years now.

Born and bred in Nagambie, Shane has been aware of the importance of having skilled GPs in rural towns since an early age.

“When I grew up, there was one doctor in my town. He was a solo general practitioner, and he was amazing because he attended to everything - births, anaesthetics, sporting injuries - absolutely everything. When I look back on that now, I reflect on how amazing it was for one doctor to do all that.

“From a community perspective, it was fantastic for the town. But I compare it to now - my mum, dad and brothers all still live in Nagambie - and there’s basically no after-hours service whatsoever”.

To enhance after-hours services and prevent a further decline, Shane says more work is needed to fill the gaps in rural medical training.

“If you’ve got rural students who are interested in staying where they are, but there’s a requirement to go to Melbourne for a period of time to undertake their training, that will significantly reduce the opportunity for them to come back to the region”.

An initiative that aims to help fill this training gap is the Murray to Mountains Rural Generalist Intern Training Program in the Hume region, which as the former Manager, Shane was heavily involved in its development.

“Murray to Mountains was the first Rural Generalist Intern Training Program in Victoria that included 20 week rotations into General Practice and small rural health services, which is something I’m really proud to have been a part of”.

“It was a program that a lot of people probably thought wouldn’t work because of the rural setting. However, over a ten-year period, the program went from something that seemed near impossible to being a huge success”.

In his new role as Manager, Goulburn Valley Regional Training Hub at the Department of Rural Health, Shane is eager to continue his work to recruit and retain students in regional Victoria.

“My new role is connected to everything I’ve done over the last 30 years. The Hub works to support recruitment and retention in the regions and to make sure we support medical students from the beginning of their studies right through to registrar”.

To ensure regional students are well-supported, Shane says collaboration is key.

“There are so many State- and Commonwealth-funded programs that are working towards similar goals to us, so we’ve realised how important it is to bring everyone together by building partnerships with other organisations to help recruitment and retention”.

A key initiative of these partnerships is to nurture students and health practitioners in the region that have experienced significant pressure in recent years, primarily due to post-COVID staff shortages.

“We had to think of ways that we could make their time here more enjoyable given recent pressures. One way to do that is partnering with local health services to run regular events – whether they be centred on wellbeing, socialisation, or education”.

If there is one piece of advice Shane would give to rural medical students, it’s to start thinking about career pathways early on.

“We know that medical students don’t always know exactly what they want to do straight away but I think it’s important to identify your career pathway as early as possible given there are limited spaces to be trained in.

“You can then see what opportunities there are in a specific region and enlist a mentor to assist you on your way”.

If you’re a medical student interested in becoming a rural health practitioner, Shane says the Hub is here to help.

“Medical training pathways are quite complex, so we’re trying to make it as simple as possible for students to identify what they can do in the region.

“In the last couple of weeks, we’ve visited three regional hospitals, identified how many years you need to undertake for certain courses, and plotted it all out to help connect the dots.

Shane says an important step in attracting and retaining medical students in the region is promoting the success stories.

“We’ve had a number of students that have been through the University of Melbourne’s Rural Clinical School so it’s vital that we promote their stories.

“When other people see it’s achievable, then they will be inspired to study and work in the region too”.