Tablelands Clinical School

Tablelands Clinical School building

About the Clinical School

The Joint Medical Program (JMP), offered by the University of New England and University of Newcastle in partnership with Hunter New England and Central Coast Local Health Districts, is part of a long-term commitment of many medical and community stakeholders to improve equity of access to health care for patients living in regional Australia and improve health services in rural areas. The Tablelands Clinical School, established in 2009,  is one of six clinical schools operating within the JMP to maximize opportunities for learning and teaching clinical skills. The six JMP Clinical Schools are:

  1. Hunter - based around the John Hunter/Royal Newcastle Centre, John Hunter Children's, Calvary Mater Newcastle and Belmont District.
  2. Central Coast - based around Gosford and Wyong Hospitals
  3. Tablelands - based around Armidale Rural Referral Hospital
  4. Peel - based around Tamworth Hospital
  5. Manning - based around Manning Base Hospital
  6. Maitland - based around Maitland Hospital.

Each Clinical School is responsible for:

  • the delivery of the clinical placements of medical students across the public and private health facilities within its geographic area;
  • developing and maintaining relationships with universities, Area Health Services, private institutions and private practitioners; and
  • establishing close links to organisations associated with the delivery of undergraduate and postgraduate medical education to maximise the opportunity for shared learning and efficiency in the use of available health resources.

Each Clinical School has as its primary aims:

  • the educational experience for medical students and the provision of opportunities for clinician teachers to contribute to medical education;
  • the gathering together of resources from the JMP partners to maximize effectiveness and efficiency in the provision of clinical medical education.

The Tablelands Clinical School covers the geographic area extending from Armidale to include Glenn Innes, Inverell, and Tenterfield. The students' Years 1 and 2 clinical skills will continue to include some in-hospital based teaching.  Year 3 students undertake the bulk of their clinical training in geographically widespread general practice and some hospital training. Year 4 and Year 5 students require prolonged in-hospital attachments within one of the six JMP clinical schools.

The Joint Medical Program and Clinical Placement

Students and clinician teachers require structured and well-organised education environments that facilitate teaching and learning. Traditionally these environments have been the wards and outpatient clinics of large metropolitan teaching hospitals and the rooms of private practitioners.

In the rural and regional context, it is clear that the patients available to be seen by medical students in large teaching hospitals do not frequently provide the students with the breadth of clinical experience required to achieve the competencies in rural medicine.

Within the JMP, the acquisition of clinical skills is a 'spiral process' from an early introduction to learning clinical skills and attitudes in Year 1 to the full year of 'pre-internship' clinical placements in Year 5. Within this Learning Spiral, clinical skills are acquired through time-limited clinical tutorials in Years 1 and 2, clinical attachments in Year 3 and full-time clinical placements in Years 4 and 5.