$7.8 million supports 30 extra rural medical students each year

Over $7.8 million will be invested by Monash University in north-west Victoria over the next two years as part of a new rural medical degree pathway that will be offered to 30 medical students annually.

The program is part of the new Murray Darling Medical Schools Network, an Australian federal government initiative announced late last year, and a welcome addition to the School of Rural Health’s work in delivering the Monash University medical degree.

Head of Monash University’s School of Rural Health, Professor Robyn Langham, said it has long been known that medical students who have a positive and rewarding experience in long-term rural and regional placements are much more likely to consider rural practice when they graduate.

“This new stream takes that one step further by identifying students up front who already have an interest in rural or regional practice, creating the opportunity for them to do their whole degree in rural and regional areas and then supporting them into postgraduate training pathways in the region,” said Professor Langham.

The new Murray Darling Medical Schools Network funding will enable Monash to invest in additional student accommodation and improve teaching infrastructure across the part of its north-west footprint which stretches from Mildura through Swan Hill to Bendigo and down to Woodend.

“With a track record of over 25 years training medical students in rural and regional Victoria, Monash is well placed to offer this exciting new opportunity,” said Professor Langham.

“The new rural stream is designed to contribute to developing a skilled and well-distributed rural workforce for the Loddon Mallee region.

“Developing this workforce from the next generation begins with our students undertaking a greater proportion of their medical training in rural areas and providing pathways that allow them to continue to study after graduation in the same region.”

Students in the rural stream of Monash’s medical degree will first complete a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Monash before entering the four-year graduate entry Doctor of Medicine program.

They will spend three-and-a-half of the four-year program in rural and regional Victoria, with the remaining clinical rotations in metropolitan teaching hospitals in order to gain exposure to and an understanding of the roles of large tertiary centres.

The capital works project begins this year to prepare for the first cohort of students in the new stream who begin their studies in 2021.

“Monash already brings an economic benefit of over $14.5 million to the region each year, and this effect this will significantly increase with the expansion that will come with the new funding of $7 882 000,” said Professor Langham.