Final year medical students Samantha Johnson Ajuma Ogiji and Trent Stapleton outside Grafton Base Hospital where they are completing their final year as part of a University of Woollongong doctor training program.
Final year medical students Samantha Johnson Ajuma Ogiji and Trent Stapleton outside Grafton Base Hospital where they are completing their final year as part of a University of Woollongong doctor training program. Adam Hourigan

Medical funding to enhance rural training experience

THE University of Wollongong is expanding its doctors training program at Grafton Base Hospital with the creation of a regional training hub thanks to a grant from the Federal Government.

And for medical students Trent Stapleton, Ajuma Ogiji and Samantha Johnson who are already in Grafton for their final year of medical school, it will add to what is already an excellent experience.

"I think the best thing about being here is that all the doctors and the staff are willing to get us involved," Ajuma said.

"We're here for a whole year, they get us involved early and they're willing us to let us learn and do new things.

"And the community is willing to let us try things - I think they like seeing new faces in the area."

The students are rotated between two days in GP clinics around Grafton, one day in emergency, one day in a speciality such as obstetrics and their final day in tutorials with doctors from the hospital, something the students say is an advantage.

"There is quite a focus on GP training and emergency, but we also get more time with the specialists in the area," Trent said.

"I think we find that rural medicine is a lot more rewarding as we have a lot more interaction with the doctors and patients, whereas in the city it can be a little bit like numbers going through.

"The expansion of the program is a great idea as it can be quite difficult to get junior doctors into hospitals."

The UOW Medicine School was selected to set up the new training hub in partnership with the University of Sydney (USYD) the Northern NSW Local Health District.

The training hubs are aimed at attracting and retaining medical graduates for the country by maximising local training opportunities for medical trainees and junior doctors, rather than them having to relocate to capital cities to become qualified.

>> RELATED STORY: University to establish Clarence medical training program

The initiative is part of the federal government's $54.4 million Integrated Rural Training Pipeline program, recently announced by Assistant Minister for Health, the Hon. Dr David Gillespie MP, which creates three new university Departments of Rural Health and 26 Regional Training Hubs across Australia over three years.

The hub will play a vital coordination role, connecting local clinicians, education and training providers, health service staff, and the broader community to set up and manage all the arrangements required to enable local doctors to do more of their training locally.

Northern NSW Local Health District Chief Executive, Mr Wayne Jones, welcomed the announcement.

"The establishment of a Regional Training Hub builds on existing training capabilities at the Grafton Base Hospital and other Northern NSW LHD facilities, making it a great step forward for our medical workforce in the Clarence Valley.

"The additional resources delivered by this program will boost the opportunities available for junior medical officers to complete more of their training in this region.

"We already have a strong relationship with the University of Wollongong. They have an excellent reputation for training medical students and we have a great reputation for providing quality clinical placements in a regional setting.

"This new funding will allow more GPs, junior doctors and specialists to be trained right here in the Clarence district," Mr Jones said.



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