UNE improving clinical capacity of New England region

Published 03 December 2009

stethoscope_smallThe University of New England is seeking to improve the region’s clinical capacity and increase access for its students to high-quality teaching staff through the Tablelands Clinical School.

With this goal in mind, UNE’s School of Rural Medicine will be appointing part-time academics in obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, emergency, and psychiatry in 2010. It is hoped that these position will also provide clinical services to the region.

Along with UNE’s School of Rural Medicine, the Tablelands Clinical School is an initiative of the Joint Medical Program (JMP), a partnership between UNE, The University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health Service, and Northern Sydney Central Coast Health Service.

“The Tablelands Clinical School is integral to the School of Rural Medicine’s vision to develop the future rural health workforce while providing clinical services to the community, including much-needed mental health services,” said Prof John Fraser, Head of the School of Rural Medicine at UNE.

“The Tablelands Clinical School will also have a focus on research, particularly knowledge translation to implement the best evidence into clinical practice between community and hospital-based care.  These developments fit with the School of Rural Medicine’s mission of developing clinical service, research and education regionally and globally,” Prof Fraser said. “The JMP’s vision is to produce medical graduates from a regional university with a rural focus who will enjoy living and working in rural communities. We will ‘grow our own’ doctors who want to live and work in the country.”

Some 37 per cent of undergraduate students enrolled in the JMP come from a rural background. This is the highest undergraduate cohort of rural students studying medicine of all the Australian universities.

Dr Maree Puxty, the Clinical Dean of the Tablelands Clinical School, said she was excited to be involved in developing the area’s medical capacity and playing a crucial role in developing the next generation of rural doctors.

“Our vision for the Tablelands Clinical School will be to develop a centre of excellence for undergraduate medical education, postgraduate medical education and health research in a rural location,” Dr Puxty said.

“Our student teaching program will attract talented senior clinicians to the Tablelands area who will add to the rural health workforce as well as undertake their academic teaching responsibilities. The Tablelands Clinical School will work cooperatively with Staff Specialists and Visiting Medical Officers from the HNEHS as well as rural General Practitioners. These clinicians will provide an improvement in the health workforce in the region as well as be talented teachers and role models for our students.”

Media contacts: Dr Maree Puxty on 0417 484 160, Prof John Fraser on 0429 074 851, or Leon Braun (UNE public relations) on 6773 3771.