Medical students and researchers heading to regional communities

A new UNSW partnership aims to support medical students in rural areas.
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A strategic partnership between UNSW and Mid North Coast Local Health District will place UNSW students at local hospitals and streamline research collaboration.

UNSW Sydney has signed an historic three-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD), to help identify potential collaborative research opportunities and place undergraduate students in local rural health facilities.

UNSW Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Attila Brungs says he was pleased to join MNCLHD Chief Executive Stewart Dowrick in signing the agreement last Friday, 12 April.

“This is an exciting opportunity for all of us. The partnership will offer our students the option to learn critical skills in a vibrant rural area, and there is the potential for both parties to engage in cutting-edge research projects together,” Professor Brungs says.

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“Placing undergraduate students in rural areas means they experience the benefits of working in the regions, understand the increased complexities of rural work, and are more likely to remain and successfully practice in a local community. This is part of our strategy to deliver highly trained medical professionals for the future of our regions.”

Strengthening the rural health workforce

Mr Dowrick says the MoU would further strengthen the long-held partnership between the University and local health district.

“This strategic partnership will ensure that we continue to provide placements in our local hospitals, training the next generation of doctors to practice in rural and regional areas, while also capitalising on valuable research opportunities,” Mr Dowrick says.

The MoU focuses on providing high quality student placement and teaching and learning experiences for undergraduate medical students. Specifically, it offers:

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  • Independent Learning Projects – fourth-year medical students complete a detailed research project within the LHD
  • Further consolidation and collaboration with UNSW to jointly develop and submit competitive National Health and Medical Research Council and Medical Research Future Fund research grant applications.

Increasing local research capacity

UNSW Associate Dean Rural Health and Head, Rural Clinical Campuses (RCC), Professor Tara Mackenzie, says the agreement ensures UNSW research has a practical impact on the local community.

“Together we will promote and progress our shared commitment to high quality clinical placements and collaborative research with a strong focus on local rural medical and health projects in local hospital and clinical environments,” she says.

“Increasing local research capacity and aligned supervisory skills and experience in our communities will ensure we achieve ongoing strategic growth within the relationship.”

Professor Mackenzie says the partnership will also enable UNSW RCC to develop research capacity that has a strong rural community health focus, encouraging and supporting rural students to publish their research and to complete their medical education with a deeper understanding of how we generate medical knowledge in relation to the health of rural and remote communities.

“The benefit of rural students developing longstanding relationships with clinical supervisors will serve them and our communities in their future careers.”

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