Medical school: First staff appointed as recruiting for leader begins

Professor Andrew Vann.
Professor Andrew Vann.

The first two staff have been appointed and the search for the head of Orange’s new medical school has started.

Charles Sturt University (CSU) vice-chancellor professor Andrew Vann said there had been a lot of work behind the scenes since the CSU-Western Sydney University (WSU) joint medical program was announced in this year’s federal budget.

Professor Vann said recruitment of staff had begun with two part-time roles filled for people to start planning for the operation of the medical school.

He said recruitment had also started to find a head of the CSU medical school.

The initial 37 first-year students are due to begin training in medicine in Orange in 2021.

About five of those students will transfer from the WSU’s system while the rest will be additional students.

“We’re doing a lot of work with WSU mapping for the curriculum plan,” he said.

Professor Vann said it was envisaged the curriculum would have a focus on rural and regional medical practice which was more general than seen in the city.

He said while the curriculum would enable graduates to work in the city it would provide the training and opportunity for them to stay in general practice in regional areas.

“We are stacking the deck in favour of regional and rural,” he said.

Professor Vann said having a medical school in Orange would have “side-benefits’ for the community in helping to meet local medical needs.

“They do struggle for certain specialties,” he said.

Introducing the medical school will involve upgrading of facilities at CSU including installing an area for training in surgery.

“[It will involve] a refurbishment and some additional. We don’t need a whole new building but we are going to have a re-work,” he said.

The school will come under the direction of the WSU’s Dean of Medicine Professor Annemarie Hennessy.

“The joint program in medicine will not only provide a world-class education for medical students, it will ensure graduates have the capabilities required for effective rural medical practice,” she said.

Following a community meeting at CSU on Thursday night staff from the two universities will hold a full-day curriculum planning workshop on Friday to identify the needs of rural health in medical education.