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23rd January, 2019

There has been significant investment by government and medical schools to increase the numbers of medical school graduates who want to work as doctors in rural and regional areas. Through selecting students from rural backgrounds and training students in rural settings, schools have produced an increasing number of graduates expressing a preference for future practice outside a capital city – with 36% of 2017 graduates saying that was their intention. This provides a very strong foundation to increase the opportunities for post-graduate training in regional areas, to help keep these rurally-inclined doctors in the regions during their specialist training years.

Providing a substantial proportion of students’ clinical training in rural and regional settings is an important aspect of the work of our member medical schools. It is vital that rural placements are a positive, connected, inspiring and challenging learning experience for students. Rural experience is also important for those students who plan on working in metropolitan areas, and provides them with knowledge and a stronger understanding of health issues faced by people from the country.

The program run by The University of Queensland’s medical school is one example of how rural training is delivered. The following article provides some insights into how the school closely connects their students with the community and local clinicians to provide an invaluable learning experience.