A COUNTRY medical student training in Wagga Wagga and a local obstetrician are among the Riverina medical community welcoming plans to build a rural medical school in the city.

Sam Roberts is a final year medical student at the University of NSW’s Wagga Wagga campus and applauded the move, saying it will open up opportunities for students unable to live and study in metropolitan centres.

“The medical school will allow students to study closer to home where they have support,” Mr Roberts said.

The Nationals’ Member for Riverina and Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, delivered funding for the badly-needed Murray-Darling Medical Schools network in last week’s Federal Budget, following years of lobbying on the city’s behalf.

The Federal Government will invest $95.4 million to establish the network, which includes the University of NSW (Wagga Wagga), University of Sydney (Dubbo), Charles Sturt University/Western Sydney University (Orange), Monash University (Bendigo, Mildura) and the University of Melbourne/La Trobe University (Shepparton, Bendigo, Wodonga).

Mr McCormack met with members of the Rural Medical School Implementation Committee (RMSIC) he established in 2011, along with representatives of the University of NSW, Wagga Wagga General Practitioner and Obstetrician Dr Carl Henman and medical students training in Wagga Wagga to discuss the highly anticipated project and last week’s breakthrough development.

“It’s terrific to get together with some of the people who have helped make this dream a reality,” Mr McCormack said.

“We are all excited about not only what a dedicated medical school in Wagga Wagga will deliver for this region but also about what the wider network will mean for improved health services in rural and regional NSW and Victoria.

“Evidence shows newly-graduated doctors are most likely to choose to live and work in rurally if they and/or their life partner have a rural origin and also if they have spent a considerable amount of their training time in regional and rural areas.”

The head of the University of NSW Medicine’s Wagga campus, Associate Professor John Preddy, said the Wagga Wagga medical school would provide a total medical workforce solution for the Riverina area.

“I think the Federal Government has developed an elegant solution in putting together a network of five rural medical schools,” Associate Professor Preddy said.

“By having five schools instead of just one they are not overburdening one individual city.”

Dr Carl Henman was born and raised in Wagga Wagga and studied at Kooringal Public School, Kooringal High School and Charles Sturt University.

He started his medical degree at the University of NSW in Sydney in 2003 and graduated in 2008 after spending the final two years of his training at the University’s Wagga Wagga campus.

“If you are based here I think you increase the likelihood of putting down roots here,” Dr Henman said, described by Associate Professor Preddy as “living proof” of the train local stay local view.

Dr Henman said the University of NSW recently celebrated its 15th year of training doctors in Wagga Wagga and this experience would be of great benefit to the new medical school.

Rural medical schools are a policy of The Nationals delivered following local branch and Conference motions.


Shane Manning