Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton (Photo: DOH)

September 8, 2020

Record numbers of university students are heading to rural and remote areas to build a career in health, according to a new report.

An independent evaluation of the Federal Government’s Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program has found that student placements across Australia have grown from about 3000 a year in 2004 to more than 13,000 in 2018.

The evaluation was commissioned last year by the Department of Health.

The program supports health students to undertake rural training through a network of rural clinical schools, university departments of rural health, dental faculties and regional training hubs.

The Australian Rural Health Education Network (ARHEN) is the peak representing universities that participate in the program.

ARHEN Board Chair Prof Lisa Bourke said the report had highlighted many contributions the program makes to rural and remote communities, including:

  • Students contribute to communities through volunteering, mentoring young people, participation in sporting and community activities and career expos
  • For every dollar spent under the program another dollar is generated in the local economy.
  • Alumni were identified in many communities working in their professions and often also teaching and supervising current students.

ARHEN representatives will meet with Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton on Wednesday to discuss the evaluation report and its recommendation the Federal Government continue to resource the program into the future.

Southern Queensland Rural Health – based in Toowoomba – is a member of ARHEN.

It is a joint venture between the University of Queensland, the University of Southern Queensland, the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service and South West Hospital and Health Service.

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