Member for Page Janelle Saffin has welcomed funding for the expansion of the Rural Clinical School in Lismore that will bring more medical students to train in our region.

The Federal Minister for Health, Nicola Roxon, had also announced $750,000 for the innovative North Coast Medical Education Collaboration (NCMEC) which supports medical placements for students to come to our region, from Sydney University, Wollongong University and the University of Western Sydney. 

Ms Saffin said the NCMEC has been a successful pilot program operated locally by the University Department of Rural Health, with three universities sharing staff, buildings and resources to give medical students the experience of working in a rural area.

“The funding means this is no longer a pilot, but is now an ongoing program,” Ms Saffin said.

“The Government this week also announced $4.1 million in operating funding and $5.7 million for infrastructure over two years for the University of Western Sydney to establish new Rural Clinical School facilities in Lismore and Bathurst.

“The new funding will help to secure regional health workforce into the future.

“The rural clinical placements immerse medical students in the social and community life of living in this area and also open their eyes to the many professional opportunities available in regional and rural health.

“Some even find life partners, and stay on or come back, when their studies are complete.” 

Ms Saffin said that by the middle of next year there will be a total of 44 students from the three universities doing 12-month placements and she understands there is now overwhelming student demand for these positions.

“The Rural Clinical School program also has a more immediate impact on the rural medical workforce by encouraging health professionals to take up rural academic positions,” Ms Saffin said.

“This investment in new teaching facilities, accommodation and student services, along with the staffing appointments, will be a boost to our local health facilities and the local health workforce.”