Australian Medical Students’ Association Rural Health Committee push for more training pathways

NEED FOR CHANGE: Gunnedah girl Sarah Clark wants to see more opportunities for medical graduates to specialise in rural and regional areas.

NEED FOR CHANGE: Gunnedah girl Sarah Clark wants to see more opportunities for medical graduates to specialise in rural and regional areas.

Gunnedah's Sarah Clark says more needs to be done for the future of medical graduates.

The third-year medical student and secretary of Australian Medical Students’ Association Rural Health Committee said there were not enough opportunities for graduates to undertake long-term specialist training in rural and regional areas.

“Rural Australia remains without enough doctors, but the issue is not that there’s a shortage of medical students,” Ms Clark said.

“In fact, at this rate we’re going to have a massive oversupply of graduates for the internships and specialty training opportunities that are available to them, with the majority of these opportunities based in the city.”

Ms Clark said this was why AMSA was opposed to the unapproved Murray Darling Medical School (MDMS).

The proposal has been put forward by La Trobe University and Charles Sturt University to provide medical student places in Bendigo, Wagga Wagga and Orange.

Ms Clark said AMSA believed funding intended for the proposal could be better spent expanding the existing rural clinical schools in these centres, and the training program in rural and regional areas for specialist training pathway programs.

“Funding the MDMS could detract from the real issue, which is the need for expansion of the specialist training programs in rural and regional areas,” she said.

Ms Clark said that irrespective of an interest to remain rural, junior doctors were forced to go where the specialty programs were – cities.

“This occurs at a time in their lives in which they are laying down roots, meaning doctors are less likely to return to rural areas once they complete their training,” she said.

Ms Clark said AMSA was supportive of the Coalition Government’s commitment to create 26 new regional training hubs for young doctors to live, work and study in rural and regional Australia, instead of having to return to cities to specialise.

“It's a great way to encourage young health professionals to give working in a rural area a go,” she said.

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