Are you interested in studying or working in the medical industry in rural areas? It can be hard to sift through all the information while you’re studying for your HSC! To help you out, in this article, we discuss all the Universities that offer undergraduate rural health opportunities to see which one is best suited for you.
Rural medicine programs and placements are clinical opportunities for students to train and learn in a real medical setting in a rural or regional community. All medicine programs require students to have at least 1 year of clinical placements, and some Universities offer this experience in a rural setting.
Some Universities have rural clinical campuses and others partner with rural/regional hospitals to provide this work experience for their students.
Other Universities offer a full rural medical program where students spend most of their academic years at the rural campuses, whereas others might offer 1-2 years of rural clinical placements for students.
Either way, there are a wide variety of rural health opportunities for you! Before we see what each Australian University offers, let’s look at why rural health opportunities are important.
Practising health in rural and regional communities is vastly different from suburban and urban environments. You will encounter a varied range of patients, medical conditions, and cases to develop your skills and knowledge. Additionally, one of the main issues facing rural areas is that there is a shortage of medical health professionals.
It is much more difficult for rural residents to find medical help compared to urban areas. Some residents drive hours just to reach their closest medical centre or hospital, and others need to travel further to find a specialist that can deal with their issues.
In the 2018 Australian Institute for Health and Welfare Report, they found that Australia’s rural areas avoidable death rates were at 248/100 000 and that their median lifespan is 16 years shorter than metropolitan cities. As an example, in Gunnedah Shire (in NSW), there is 1 doctor for every 3000 people in the area. These statistics are shocking and promote terrible health outcomes.
This is why Australian Universities are offering more rural health opportunities in hopes of encouraging more medical professionals to stay in these rural areas.
In addition, there are also plenty of Rural Entry Schemes that prioritise students with rural backgrounds into these Medical programs.
Here are the Universities that offer rural health opportunities for undergraduate programs:
If you’re interested in postgraduate rural health programs, here are some Universities that offer these opportunities:
Students in the 4th-6th year of their medical degree can choose rural placements for their clinical placements.
This placement can range from 4 weeks to 36 weeks (a full academic year)
Year 4: Surgical Home Unit
Year 5: Integrated program
Year 6: Selective program
|Year 4||Year 5|
In 2021, Curtin University opened a new Rural Health Campus in Kalgoorlie. It consists of simulated hospital wards and clinical training rooms.
Students completing their MBBS degree will get a chance to have a rural placement at this campus. This placement is usually offered in their fourth year.
This is a Joint Medical Program (JMP) by the University of New England and the University of Newcastle. Students completing this degree will either be placed in the rural Armidale campus or the urban Newcastle campus.
There is two streams available for students: a Rural Stream and an Urban Stream. Students must indicate preferences for which stream they wish to follow during Year 3 of the Bachelor of Medical Science, and a ballot will be used if there are any unfilled clinical placements.
Students entering the rural stream will be attending the School of Rural Medicine. There are 3 Rural Clinical Schools that include anatomy laboratories, PBL rooms, and medical student common rooms.
Years 1 and 2:
Year 4 and 5:
This program is based in both Armidale and Newcastle. So, students can choose to be placed on the Armidale campus for a more rural experience.
In Years 4 and 5, students can be placed at one of the three Rural Clinical Schools in the Hunter New England region or Central Coast region:
(Note: JMP has 3 more urban clinical schools)
Students can be placed in four rural referral hospitals for their clinical placements in:
USyd’s Rural School of Health is located in both Dubbo and Orange. It includes medical facilities, public and private hospitals, and general and private specialties.
All USyd’s third-year and/or fourth-year medical students can choose to complete their clinical placements at Dubbo or Orange. This can be 1 year or 2 years long. All Medical students must complete some of the compulsory clinical placements in rural areas.
Note: For Postgraduates, there are two streams available for students: Metropolitan Stream and Dubbo Stream. Students who choose the Dubbo stream will complete their studies on the Dubbo campus for the full course.
Rural hospitals where USyd’s medical students complete their placements:
La Trobe University and the University of Melbourne are collaborating to train and encourage doctors in rural areas. The Rural Medical Pathway is suitable for students coming from rural backgrounds and is interested in working in rural/regional areas.
There are two ways to enter the Doctor of Medicine through the Rural Pathway:
Students who are beginning at La Trobe University will be completing the two degrees on rural campuses.
Students who choose to take the Rural Pathway to Medicine will complete their studies on the following regional campuses:
To be accepted into the MD Rural Pathway, students must meet the following criteria:
Approximately 30 students are selected to complete the University of Melbourne Medicine of Doctor. In this group, 15 are pre-selected from La-Trobe University’s Biomedical Science (Medicine) students.
UQ’s Rural Clinical School is one of Australia’s largest rural clinical schools. Students will learn through public and private hospitals, consulting rooms, and different healthcare settings in different rural areas in Queensland.
Students who are completing their clinical experience part of their medical degree will live and work at 1 of 4 UQ’s Rural Clinical School sites for 6 weeks or 1-2 years.
Students who are keen to learn and work in a rural environment are able to apply for an extended rural placement in Year 3 of the MD program.
UQ’s Rural Clinical School offers 4 main rural sites:
Monash offers a few different programs to complete your medical degree in rural/regional Victoria:
Students who complete their degrees in rural Victoria are being taught and examined on the same content as students studying in metropolitan Victoria.
The UNSW Rural Entry Scheme aims to encourage students with an extensive rural background to learn and practise Medicine. Students will learn and be examined on the same course content as the ‘local entry’ UNSW Medicine students.
There are 3 phases to UNSW Medical programs:
Students who apply for the UNSW Medicine through the Rural Entry Scheme can choose to undertake Phase 1 at Port Macquarie, Wagga Wagga or Kensington campuses. Applicants must complete the full Phase 1 at their named location. Students also have a chance to complete the full UNSW Medicine program at Port Macquarie or Wagga Wagga.
Those who choose UNSW Rural Clinical School Port Macquarie must remain at the Mid-North Coast campus throughout Phases 2 and 3 too, like Coffs Harbour or Port Macquarie. Those who choose the Wagga Wagga campus will complete Phases 2 and 3 at a Southern Campus, including Wagga Wagga, Albury, or Griffith.
Approximately only 26 students are accepted into the Port Macquarie campus.
Note: Students from the local stream are still able to undertake placements in UNSW Rural Clinical School.
Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA) offers placements for their medical students in 15 different rural towns in Western Australia, ranging from Kununurra to Esperance. It is the only collaborative rural clinical school in Western Australia.
This program is offered for medical students in their penultimate (second-last) year of their Medical program and is 1 year long. Approximately 105 students are accepted into this program.
Students from UWA and Notre Dame can apply to RCSWA in their 2nd year. Students from Curtin can apply to RCSWA in their 3rd year.
Information about the program
This is a joint program offered by Western Sydney University and Charles Sturt University. Students have the chance to complete their degree in Metropolitan Sydney on the WSU’s Campbeltown campus or regional NSW on CSU’s Orange campus.
Students who take the rural stream will learn on the Orange campus opposite Orange Hospital and will also get a chance to have placements in Orange Hospital.
This program also accepts applicants from rural and regional backgrounds through the Rural Entry Admissions Scheme (REAS).
How to apply?
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