Boost for medical training in SA and NT

Flinders University is looking to deliver even more sophisticated, on-location specialist, generalist and rural GP training for doctors in the Northern Territory and South Australia.

The Federal Government last week announced a further $54.4 million for education and training for doctors, nurses and health professionals to help deliver better health services in rural, regional and remote areas across Australia.

The funding for 26 regional training hubs and three more University Departments of Health includes additional funding for Flinders University’s world-class medical and health training in the NT and Limestone Coast in regional SA.

“Both of these initiatives of the Coalition Government support high quality rural placements for health students from across Australia, to help ensure rural communities have access to doctors, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals in the future,” Assistant Minister for Health Dr David Gillespie said.

“These hubs will work with local health services to help move medical students through the pipeline, enabling students to continue rural training through university into postgraduate medical training, and then working within rural Australia.

“Supporting high quality regional and rural health training is not only an important way to address rural health workforce shortages, but also maintain and improve overall services in the bush. Good quality accessible health services are an important and essential part in the growth of a regional economy.”

Professor Jennene Greenhill, Associate Dean of Flinders Rural Health SA, welcomed the funding boost for the Limestone Coast Regional Training Hub in partnership with Country Health SA.

“Such initiatives will ensure we capitalise on the existing facilities and award-winning medical education we provide to our young doctors, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals across regional South Australia and the Northern Territory,” Professor Greenhill says.

“The best way to attract and retain doctors in rural and remote areas is to train them in rural communities where there is well-resourced and untapped capacity to supervise trainees.

“Rural South Australia is a great place for medical training. Rural clinical practice is varied and we offer good support and training in general medicine, general surgery and general practice which gives them skills and experiences they would not get in the city hospital settings.”

Professor Greenhill, who chairs the Federation of Rural Australian Medical Educators (FRAME), says there is a strong collective goal among universities and the Australian Government to keep improving delivery of education and training opportunities in rural and remote areas.

“There has traditionally been a leakage of doctors away from country towns and remote regions so these programs are essential to attracting, training and keeping doctors where they’re most needed.”

Flinders NT Medical Program Course Director, Associate Professor Tina Noutsos, says the University’s Northern Territory Medical Program is well established, offering students the opportunity to complete all of their medical schooling in the NT.

Widely dispersed rural and remote clinical school sites are located in Alice Springs, Katherine and Nhulunbuy, with the major university hub based in Darwin in partnership with Charles Darwin University.

“The NT Medical Program offers Northern Territorians and Indigenous students the opportunity to complete medical schooling in the NT, as well as offering a wide variety of clinical placements to students from other universities around Australia,” Associate Professor Tina Noutsos says.

“This new funding boost is a tremendous opportunity to solidify and expand the depth and breadth of education, supervision and training and will facilitate students through the pipeline from their university years and into the postgraduate workforce in the Northern Territory.

“With the new funding, we will establish an NT Regional Training Hub to service both Alice Springs and Darwin.

This training hub will work closely with local health service providers towards developing and strengthening an ‘Integrated Rural Training Pipeline for Medicine’ through university to postgraduate medical training in the NT, she says.

The Federal Government is funding a number of new initiatives to bridge the gap between city and country health services by reducing medical workforce shortages via the provision of more streamlined and coordinated training in regional areas.

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