NT’s first home-grown doctors graduate from Flinders

NTMP studentsThe first doctors to be educated entirely in the Northern Territory will graduate at a Flinders University ceremony in Darwin today (December 18).

Eight completing medical students, members of the first intake into the full four-year Flinders University Northern Territory Medical Program (NTMP) in 2011, will receive their degrees from Chancellor Stephen Gerlach at the Darwin Convention Centre.

Flinders Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Barber, said the graduation was a significant event for the whole Northern Territory.

“These graduations mark a new era for health services in the Territory, and Flinders University is very proud of its role in enabling this self-sufficiency in medical education in the Northern Territory,” Professor Barber said.

Graduates of the course are committed to spend two years working in the Territory, and it is anticipated that many will pursue their careers there. Several other students from the initial intake who are studying part-time or who have paused in their studies will graduate in the next two years.

Professor Barber said the capacity to offer the full graduate medical degree in the NT was the result of an extraordinary level of support and collaboration.

“This initiative has enjoyed strong bipartisan support from both Federal and Northern Territory governments, and the provision of generous infrastructure funding has allowed Flinders to create world-class facilities for the various premises of Northern Territory Rural Clinical School, as well as a new dedicated building for teaching medicine in Darwin,” he said.

“Flinders’ close collaboration with Charles Darwin University has also been integral to our success.”

While based initially in Darwin, NTMP students spend much of their third and fourth years of study in community settings across the Territory. The Northern Territory Rural Clinical School operates in Nhulunbuy, Alice Springs, Katherine and Tennant Creek to provide training in rural and remote health care that is especially attuned to the needs of Aboriginal Australians.

Students are also placed with clinicians at the Royal Darwin Hospital, and with medical practitioners at the Palmerston Super Clinic and another clinic based at Charles Darwin University (CDU), which are jointly managed by the two universities.

There are 94 NTMP students currently enrolled.Preference for entry is given to Indigenous students and to Territory residents, with numbers of applications and competition for places increasing each year. An entry path for school-leavers has also been set up as a double degree with CDU.

Entry to the NTMP by Indigenous students is particularly encouraged and supported by the Indigenous Pathways to Medicine program, which offers both academic and pastoral support.

The University’s commitment to the Northern Territory is demonstrated by more than 100 Flinders staff based in the NT, and is supported by annual expenditure of $14 million and over $40 million in capital projects.

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