New smart building boosts medical education

jennene_greenhillState-of-the-art facilities, including a video-conferencing suite and a lecture theatre with clinical simulation capabilities, are key elements of a new $1.7 million home base for Flinders University’s Rural Clinical School program in the Hills, Mallee and Fleurieu region.

The building was officially opened by the Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Health Mark Butler on July 20.

Located within the grounds of the South Coast District Hospital at Victor Harbor, the building was funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, the South Coast District Hospital, the Victor Harbor Council and the Flinders University Faculty of Health Sciences. The facility also includes a meeting and tutorial room and administrative offices for staff.

Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Barber said the new building is a manifestation of the high reputation enjoyed by the Flinders Parallel Rural Community Curriculum (PRCC).

“Pioneered in 1997, the University’s Parallel Rural Community Curriculum sees third-year medical students from Flinders spend an entire year in rural general medical practice. Local GPs, visiting specialists and local hospitals are all involved in teaching the students,” Professor Barber said.

“It is a unique initiative that sees regional communities investing in the future of their own medical services, and as the funding of this building shows, all of the program’s contributing partners are committed to its continued success.”

Associate Professor Jennene Greenhill, Director of Flinders Rural Clinical School, said more than 70 per cent of PRCC students have returned to rural practice after graduating.

“The program is consistently recognised by students as the best authentic experience in clinical education, and has produced a significant increase in the numbers of medical graduates pursuing rural career pathways,” she said.

As well as operating at four sites in South Australia, the PRCC has been replicated in the Northern Territory through the Northern Territory Rural Clinical School and more than 15 other universities within Australia and overseas.  The program is being extended to include other health professionals, including nurses, midwives and paramedics.

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