An Australian-first university and hospital partnership is set to train up to 40 doctors in regional Queensland each year.
Bundaberg and Rockhampton will receive their first intake in 2022 under the new Regional Medical Pathway - formalised today between CQUniversity, The University of Queensland, and the Central Queensland and Wide Bay Hospital and Health Services.
CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Nick Klomp said the formalisation of the partnership was a significant milestone for regional healthcare delivery.
“Today’s announcement is the direct result of four parties coming together to address a critical issue: the future of healthcare in regional Queensland,’ Professor Klomp said.
“The resulting Regional Medical Pathway will ensure that more doctors are trained regionally, and importantly stay regionally once they enter the profession.
“I’m thrilled to partner with UQ, CQHHS and WBHHS on this game-changing program for regional Queensland.’
Students will complete a three-year Bachelor of Medical Science (Pathway to Medicine) course with CQUniversity, before moving into UQ’s four-year MD program - both offered in the local area.
UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Deborah Terry said the pathway would help address the difficulties in attracting and retaining doctors in regional, remote and rural areas.
“Medical workforce shortages exist in regional areas across Australia and around the globe and I am confident that together we can achieve a positive, sustained improvement in health outcomes in Central Queensland and Wide Bay,’ Professor Terry said.
“The regional delivery of the UQ MD will build on our current Rural Clinical School footprint in Rockhampton, Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, as well as smaller rural hospitals and general practices in the regions.
“We are delighted to be a part of this exciting collaboration to create a comprehensive, integrated pre-medical and medical education and training pathway.’
The Hospital and Health Services will provide internship and postgraduate training places within their regional footprints, meaning aspiring doctors will no longer have to leave the regions to complete or further their studies.
The partner organisations have worked together for more than two years to finalise the delivery of the Program.
Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Steve Williamson said communities in Central Queensland and Wide Bay could now be confident that future health workforces will be better equipped to deal with community growth and changing healthcare needs.
“The Central Queensland and Wide Bay regions are growing areas and the communities have an expectation that healthcare delivery will meet future demand,’ Mr Williamson said.
“The Regional Medical Pathway has been specifically designed to secure long-term, locally trained workforces for the regions.’
Chief Executive Officer of Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service, Deborah Carroll, said the new partnership represented the first opportunity for aspiring Rockhampton and Bundaberg doctors to be trained in their own backyard.
“This collaboration will deliver an end-to-end medical education and training program for doctors, right here in Central Queensland and the Wide Bay,’ Ms Carroll said.
“The program will improve accessibility for regionally based students, allowing them to study, train and practice in the regions they are from. For many students, having the support of their family, friends and the community they grew up in will only aid their academic success in this program.’
Applications for entry into the CQUniversity Bachelor of Medical Science (Pathway to Medicine) course will open in 2021.