Future rural doctors take next bold step

Left-right: Federal Minister for Regional Health Dr David Gillespie; Oscar McGraw; Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at University of Melbourne Professor Jane Gunn; Isabella Trevaskis, Gabriella Hill; Vice-Chancellor at La Trobe University, Professor John Dewar AO; Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum.
Left-right: Federal Minister for Regional Health Dr David Gillespie MP; Oscar McGraw; Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at University of Melbourne Professor Jane Gunn; Isabella Trevaskis, Gabriella Hill; Vice-Chancellor at La Trobe University Professor John Dewar AO; Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum MP.

Seventeen La Trobe University graduates are a step closer to realising their dream of becoming rural doctors, as they prepare to embark on the University of Melbourne’s Doctor of Medicine (Rural Pathway) in Shepparton.

Fifteen of the students were selected as part of the initial intake into Victoria’s first end-to-end rural medical program – a partnership established in 2019 between La Trobe and the University of Melbourne, designed to help solve Victoria’s rural doctor shortage.

The students – who grew up across regional Victoria and NSW and were co-selected by both universities – have just completed a Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Medical) at the Bendigo and Albury Wodonga campuses.

Two further students gained direct entry to the Doctor of Medicine (Rural Pathway) via the usual, highly competitive national application process, after completing La Trobe undergraduate degrees.

Minister for Regional Health, the Hon. Dr David Gillespie, visited Shepparton to congratulate the students, along with Federal Member for Nicholls, the Hon. Damian Drum; Vice-Chancellor at La Trobe University, Professor John Dewar AO; and Dean Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at University of Melbourne, Professor Jane Gunn.

Minister Gillespie commended both the University of Melbourne and La Trobe University on their successful collaboration.

“Congratulations to all the students on their graduation from La Trobe,” Minister Gillespie said.

“I wish them the best of luck as they embark on their further studies and thank La Trobe and the University of Melbourne for their work in providing this end-to-end rural medical program.”

Mr Drum congratulated the students and wished them the best of luck for the remainder of their studies.

Today is a great day for the Goulburn Valley as the first cohort in this ground-breaking end-to-end regional medical program mark a major milestone in their quest to become a doctor.

“I’m proud the Federal Government, in conjunction with La Trobe University and the University of Melbourne, created this medical program as part of an effort to alleviate known a doctor shortage in regional and rural Australia.

“I am confident that a high proportion of graduating students will choose to stay in the Goulburn Valley for their medical careers, benefitting the region for years and decades to come.”

Professor Dewar congratulated the 17 students for the many years of hard work they have put in to get to this point.

“We know that these students are stand-outs amongst their peers – not just for their ability and hard work, but for their passion to contribute to the regional communities they grew up in,” Professor Dewar said.

“As a university deeply embedded in regional communities, we are very proud of this program, and how these students will contribute to building the country’s rural health workforce once they graduate.”

Professor Dewar particularly congratulated the two students – Tim Duff and Yong Deng – who gained direct entry to the University of Melbourne’s Doctor of Medicine (Rural Pathway).

“It is a testament to their extraordinary abilities, and La Trobe’s high-quality biomedical science and pharmacy degrees, that Tim and Yong were selected from hundreds of applicants across the country for this world-class course,” Professor Dewar said.

Professor Jane Gunn, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences said that investing in rural training now, will ensure a more equitable medical workforce in the future.

“Coming from a rural setting, I am personally delighted to see more rural and regional students gain access to the University of Melbourne MD course,” Professor Gunn said.

“I congratulate Professors Prins and Trumble and their team for working on this initiative. This important collaboration between our two universities will provide great opportunities for students to realise their full potential.”

The rural medical program was announced in the Federal Government’s 2018-2019 Budget, and involves a unique collaboration between the two universities which have a long and respected track record in medical, health and rural education.

Thirty students commence in the University of Melbourne’s Doctor of Rural Medicine each year, at the University’s Shepparton campus.

A $6.5 million upgrade to the campus is expected to be completed in early 2022, including new student accommodation and expanded teaching spaces.

Fifteen of the 17 students will relocate to the University of Melbourne’s Shepparton campus to start their Doctor of Medicine (Rural Pathway) in 2022 – while two have deferred their start date until 2023.