I’ve been a regional specialist for almost 25 years.
My colleagues and I have been training young doctors for careers as regional GPs and specialists over several decades.
There are several important determinants for doctors taking careers in the country: local family and social networks (or a spouse with a similar background), rural medical school education and training, sufficient vocational training positions in regional general practices and hospitals and vacancies for qualified doctors.
The national shortage of doctors was initially focused on increasing the number of medical graduates.
Establishing a rural medical school in our region was an important start of a long chain to address the shortage of regional doctors.
Current assertions that we lack of a regional medical school has become a smokescreen that is hiding a major problem with shortage of training posts for medical graduates.
For every training position at Orange Hospital, up to nine young applicant doctors are turned away.
We can train more but are inadequately resourced for enough training positions.
Many of our doctors in such training positions will eventually take up careers in regional and remote Australia.
Our long involvement in training these doctors repeatedly confirms our experience.
Medical students have recognised what Prof. Dwyer and Mr Gee have failed to see and have openly expressed their concerns.
Prof. Dwyer is an accomplished doctor but he has no substantive background in either training young doctors in the country nor has he resided and practiced medicine in regional Australia.
He will not incur the same material loss that we will experience as regional residents if the medical school fails to deliver as I strongly suspect.
Mr Gee has not thoroughly approached my regional colleagues to seek our collective experience and advice about long-term strategies to address the shortage of doctors in the country.
This reflects poorly on his capacity to make sound judgements at such a fundamental level.
It is particularly worrying as enormous resources are being thrown into the Murray Darling Medical School.
My plea and warning is that indiscriminately throwing large amounts of the public purse at a problem without a deep understanding of the issues through consultation, collaboration and thoughtful long-term planning is not only wasteful but is a recipe for failure as it won't address our problem.
This is doubly tragic.
Bridging a gap requires building bridges where the gap exists – locating a massive bridge in a minor tributary upstream is inadequate.
If and when medical students graduate from this shiny new medical school they will be competing with up to 10 others for vocational training and limited career prospects in regional Australia.
We require a coordinated commitment by our politicians and health authorities that recognises and adequately resources regional and district hospitals with the capacity to train and retain doctors.
Our local federal member has good intentions but lacks strategic insight - we deserve better.
I urge our readers to make known their opinions and concerns to Mr Gee.