Aspiring doctors will soon be able to complete their entire medical degree in Dubbo, after the federal government announced the expansion of the city’s University of Sydney, School of Rural Health (SRH) campus.
The announcement in Tuesday’s budget has been hailed a “huge win for Dubbo and western NSW” by local industry professionals, and further enhances the city’s reputation as a learning hub.
Currently, students can only complete either the third or fourth year of their medical degree in Dubbo, with 32 students living in Dubbo each year.
But following Tuesday’s announcement, the school will increase its offering to the entire four-year degree.
First year students could be enrolled as soon as 2021, with the expansion likely to mean more teaching facilities will be built at the campus to accommodate the new students.
It will also engage more local doctors and clinicians for education and supervision.
“Increasing the number of students here at the campus represents a major investment in Dubbo and will have positive flow on effects to the local community and our medical workforce,” said Head of School Associate Professor Dr Mark Arnold.
“Currently 35 per cent of first-year medical students at the University of Sydney are from a regional background.
“We hope this will encourage even more rural students to study medicine, by removing the barrier of having to move to Sydney or another major city for your degree.”
More than 300 medical graduates have passed through the school’s doors since its inception in 2001.
Third year student Josh Gold said the expansion would help more students from a rural background aspire to a career in medicine.
“After living in Dubbo I understand what a great place it is, and how relaxed and affordable it is compared to Sydney,” Mr Gold said.
“I’ve had a great experience so far, Dubbo is really thriving.
“I think being able to do your whole degree at the SRH would encourage more rural kids to think about medicine, as many people don’t want to work or study in the city. Now you will have that option.”
Tuesday’s announcement comes after the establishment of a Regional Training Hub in Dubbo, currently in its planning stages and being driven by the school.
The training hub will offer medical graduates more opportunities to stay in the city to complete their further specialist training, in turn retaining more doctors in the local community.
School manager Kim O’Connor also welcomed the announcement, which should see the school expand not only in student numbers, but in the buildings and facilities needed at the local campus.
“This is a huge win for Dubbo and western NSW which will benefit from the expansion of our medical school,” Mrs O’Connor said.
“The additional funding for new infrastructure will add to our existing state-of-the-art education facilities at our Dubbo campus.
“There will be a number of employment opportunities created across a range of areas. We employ local people at the SRH and this announcement by the federal government acknowledges the excellent work being done by our staff.”
The university is also set to start construction of a new clinical simulation training centre at the Dubbo campus.