Charles Sturt University has appointed a Dean of Rural Medicine ahead of its first intake of medical students in February 2021.
Dr Lesley Forster has signed on for a five-year contract managing the joint program between CSU and Western Sydney University.
Based out of Orange, Dr Forster said her first priority will be to establish how student learning would be facilitated within the regions existing medical institutions.
Dr Forster said this meant speaking with doctors and clinicians to better understand their needs and establish a way to ensure the medical students were an asset during their placements.
"There's a basic medical program that you have to provide in order for the student to be qualified, but how you deliver that program differs," she said. "There are rewards in teaching, but it's also time consuming. You can't put too much of a load onto existing doctors."
Dr Forster has joined CSU from the University of NSW, where she held the position of Associate Dean and Head of the Rural Clinical School.
She said recruitment of teaching staff would be another priority, before beginning the process of marketing the program to potential students.
Project manager for the program Glenn McMahon said the construction project was on track, with a sod-ceremony scheduled for December 12.
Mr McMahon said CSU's medical training would provide places for 37 students with priority given to those who show interest in a career in regional areas.
The students will need to achieve an ATAR of more than 91.5, ace their University Clinical Aptitude Test and impress a university panel during an interview process.
"During interviews we'll be looking to filter out the people who have a clear intention to pursue a career in the bush," Mr McMahon said.
Dr Forster said the university was changing the way medicine was taught and practised in country areas.
"The course's curriculum and additional vocational programs will steer students towards opportunities to work in regional Australia at the completion of their studies," she said.
Dr Forster's experience with rural and regional medicine includes with the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Orange, Broken Hill, Bathurst and Wagga Wagga.
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