Rural Clinical Schools shift balance back to the country

Rural Clinical Schools (RCSs) are attracting new doctors to regional areas, while students training in regional locations are achieving comparable or better academic results.

Senator for South Australia Anne Ruston said the success of the program was helping to ensure the long-term sustainability of Australian rural and regional communities.

“Today I was delighted move a motion in the Senate supporting the success of Rural Clinical Schools and the positive impact they’re having on our regional communities,” Senator Ruston said.

“RCSs were introduced by the Howard Coalition Government in 1999 to address a shortage of general practitioners and specialist doctors in country areas.

“Their success over this time is evident and worth celebrating. Students training in rural and regional areas are achieving results equal to or better than their metropolitan counterparts and many have chosen, or intend, to work in the country.

“Independent tracking of Australian and New Zealand medical students has demonstrated that long-term placements in a rural setting through RCSs have a significant impact on students’ choices of vocation, specialty focus and intention to practice in a regional area.”

Senator Ruston said the Flinders University Rural Clinical School in Renmark was a stellar example of the program’s success.

“Since this RCS opened more than 100 students have passed through its graduate entry program,” she said. “The community liaison committee – a panel comprising representatives of the Riverland community – has selected 35 students from across regional Australia and I am very pleased to say 98% of them are practising in rural and regional areas.”

In her notice of motion in the Senate today, Senator Ruston called on the Australian Government to continue support for RCSs and expand opportunities to create intern and post-graduate training places in rural locations.

The notice of motion was also given by Senator for South Australia David Fawcett and Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie, following a similar notice in the House of Representatives by the Member for Mallee the Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP.

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