Academic criticises scheme

AS a new batch of young doctors prepare to start work in Orange under the University of Sydney’s School of Rural Health program, a Charles Sturt University (CSU) academic has taken a swipe at the scheme, saying rural clinician schemes have failed to increase the proportion of Australian medical graduates working outside metropolitan areas.

Orange Health Service employs doctors  who have been trained in Orange under the UNSW rural training scheme, with a new batch of student doctors starting 12 months at the hospital today.

CSU Emeritus Professor John Dwyer claims city medical schools are not achieving their goals of getting more doctors into rural areas.

However, School of Rural Health Adjunct Associate Professor Gabriel Shannon said, following on from one of the largest medical intern intakes at Orange Health Service, Orange remained a drawcard for young medical professionals.

Professor Dwyer says nearly half the general practitioners working in rural areas are trained overseas and rural communities will become more reliant on recruiting doctors from outside Australia in the future if current policies are maintained.

“The only achievement rural communities want to see is more Australian-trained doctors working in rural Australia, yet city medical schools are not providing the evidence to show that this is happening,” he said.

However, Professor Shannon says he believes the positive experiences of students in Orange is paying off.

“In fact, this year in Orange we see the return of two of our former students who are now specialists in their respective fields,” he said.

The School of Rural Health also has a campus  in Dubbo, with 64 medical students gaining experience at both Orange and Dubbo every year.

janice.harris@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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