Doors open to first year medical students in Warrnambool and Ararat
This week, aspiring doctors from rural Victoria will begin their Deakin University medical studies in Warrnambool and Ararat.
This is the first time students entering Deakin's Doctor of Medicine (MD) program have started the first year of their degrees in South-West and Western Victoria.
Deakin's Dean of Medicine, Professor Gary Rogers said the opportunity to deliver a full rural medical degree was genuinely exciting for the University but also for the 30 first year students who will now be able to complete their studies closer to their homes and families.
"Previously, our medical students all completed the first and second year of their degrees at our Waurn Ponds campus in Geelong and then dispersed across regional Victoria and Melbourne to complete their third and fourth placement years," Professor Rogers said.
"This year, we have 30 students in our Rural Training Stream studying at Deakin's new rural learning campuses for the MD, 15 students in Warrnambool and 15 students at the East Grampians Health Service in Ararat.
"This is an important step in our commitment to recruiting and retaining rural students to work as doctors in their communities.
"It's really important that students from our region remain living in and connected to their communities whilst completing their medical studies.
"Being forced to move away to attend university is not only a financial burden it is also disruptive for them and their families and makes it less likely they will return as a future doctor," Professor Rogers said.
In December, Deakin welcomed significant funding from the Federal Government to deliver the Warrnambool and Ararat based MD program.
The Government committed $90 million to six universities in six states, including Deakin in Victoria, to fund classrooms, equipment and facilities as well as new Commonwealth Supported Places for medical students.
Deakin's Director of Rural Medical Education, Associate Professor Lara Fuller said it was hoped the Rural Training Stream would open the door for a whole new generation of rural students to consider becoming rural doctors.
"This year, as a result of the changes we have made, for the first time, we have 30 students from rural communities in our region commencing in our Rural Training Stream," Associate Professor Fuller said.
"This really is a game-changer for rural students who have always wanted to study medicine. We hope this will enable them make their dreams a reality."