New regional medical pathway attracts healthy interest from across Australia

16 December 2021

The foundation course for a new Australian-first regional medical pathway has attracted strong interest from applicants right across Australia.

From next year' Bundaberg and Rockhampton will receive their first student intake of future doctors' who will complete all their study and training in Central Queensland and the Wide Bay regions.

CQUniversity's Bachelor of Medical Science (Pathway to Medicine) to be delivered at the Bundaberg and Rockhampton CQU campuses attracted just under 1000 applications from school leavers across Australia' including more than 170 applications from people from rural and regional and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

The new three-year course delivered by CQUniversity will commence in March 2022' with graduates from the course then moving into The University of Queensland's four-year MD program which will also be delivered in the regions.

As part of the Regional Medical Pathway the Hospital and Health Services in Central Queensland and the Wide Bay will provide student placements' internship opportunities' and prevocational and vocational training places within their regional footprints. This will include placements at major hospitals in Rockhampton' Gladstone and Emerald (CQHHS) and Bundaberg' Hervey Bay and Maryborough (WBHHS)' as well as rural hospitals and multipurpose health services. Importantly' they will also be immersed in the community' particularly the many primary care settings such as general practices.

CQUniversity's Dean of the School of Health' Medical and Applied Science' Professor Michelle Bellingan said the volume of applications for the first year of the program was a very positive development for the future of health delivery in the regions.

"We are thrilled with the response we have had to this new course and the interest received from school leavers across Australia.

"This is the strongest interest we have ever had for the launch of any new course at CQUniversity' and we are excited to see that so many of these applications came from prospective students from regional and remote backgrounds.

"We have also received an encouraging number of applications from aspiring First Nations doctors'" said Professor Bellingan.

"We are excited to work with all of our new students' and with our partners UQ' CQHHS and WBHHS to deliver an exceptional experience for the next generation of doctors in regional Queensland."

Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive John Burns said the imminent intake of the first cohort of students to the pathway meant that communities in Central Queensland and Wide Bay could now be more confident that future health workforces will be better equipped to deal with community growth and changing healthcare needs.

"The Central Queensland and Wide Bay regions are growing areas and the communities have an expectation that healthcare delivery will meet–future demand'" Mr Burns said.

"The Regional Medical Pathway has been specifically designed to secure long-term' locally trained workforces for the regions. I am so proud of our teams to see such an amazing partnership bring this fantastic medical pathway to Central Queensland."

Chief Executive of Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service' Debbie Carroll' added that delivery of the course starting from next year' was the first opportunity for aspiring Wide Bay and Central Queensland doctors to be entirely trained locally.

"The pathway will improve accessibility for regionally-based students' allowing them to study'–train–and practice in their own backyard. Being based in their own community helps these students maintain close support networks of family and friends - which aids their academic and professional success'" she said.

"On top of this' staying locally in their regional communities provides greater continuity of care and delivers more high-quality care close to home' which makes a huge difference to our communities."

First round offers for the CQUniversity Bachelor of Medical Science (Pathway to Medicine) will be released in January with 40 places on offer (20 each in Bundaberg and Rockhampton).