MORE rural students study medicine at the University of Wollongong than any other medical school in NSW, with the 2013 intake representing almost 70 per cent of regional students.
This year’s students were recently undertaking lectures at the UOW Shoalhaven Campus, where one local student is following in her mother’s footsteps.
Year one medicine student Sally Carter’s mother, Dr Amanda Venables, was in the university’s first graduating class in 2010.
“Dad is a pharmacist in Milton so health has always been on my mind,” Ms Carter said.
“I was doing a science degree at uni and realised it wasn’t the path for me.”
She finished her science degree and is halfway through a Masters, however inspired by her mother’s transition from working in a pharmacy to becoming a doctor Ms Carter decided she too would study medicine.
Dean of the UOW Graduate School of Medicine Professor Alison Jones said the high student intake was testimony to the school’s reputation as a leader in medical education and for its rural training program.
“Across Australia the average rural enrolment for medical schools is about 25 per cent,” Professor Jones said.
“We deliver a program that is recognised for its educational excellence as well as its strong focus on immersing our students in medical practice within regional and rural communities.
“This year almost 1300 applicants were vying for 86 places in our program and I think this reflects the impact we are having on the national medical education landscape.”
Professor Jones said the new students, who have begun lectures at Wollongong and Shoalhaven campuses, come from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Argentina.
“What we are looking for are students who not only have outstanding academic skills but the personal qualities to become an excellent doctor.”
Professor Jones said the success of the program was also addressing the shortage of healthcare professionals in rural Australia.
“Fifty-two per cent of our first graduating class chose to do their medical internship in a regional or rural area and that figure rose to 67.5 per cent by 2011.”