School of Medicine opens Ballarat Rural Clinical School

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Summer 4-2-2011

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney Campus

Publication Place



The inaugural group of final year medical students from The University of Notre Dame Australia’s School of Medicine Sydney commenced studies at St John of God Hospital, Ballarat (SJGHB) on Monday, 31 January, 2011.

The official opening of the Ballarat Rural Clinical School (RCS) was held on Friday, 4 February, 2011.

The new School is part of an innovative partnership between the University and St John of God Health Care (SJGHC) to provide education and training for the medical students in a clinical and rural setting. The Australian Government is providing funding to universities to maintain and develop, on a national basis, a rural education and training network through the establishment of Rural Clinical Schools. Such programs will increase the availability and viability of Australian rural health services in the long-term. The Commonwealth has provided $120,000 of capital funding for the Ballarat RCS and ongoing recurrent funding.

The 10 fourth year students are completing the clinical stage of the Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery. They will spend the next 12 months in Ballarat gaining vital rural clinical experience. A group of 32 students from other UNDA clinical schools will come to Ballarat in groups of four throughout the year, to undertake short four week rural rotations to the RCS.

All Notre Dame medical students spend their final two years of the course at metropolitan, outer metropolitan and rural clinical sub-schools. Other sites include Auburn, Werribee, Hawkesbury, Lithgow, Wagga Wagga and St Vincent’s and Mater Hospitals, Sydney, with students spending a minimum of four weeks at one of the rural sites.

Head of the Ballarat RCS, Associate Professor Andrew Dean, said part of the School’s mission is to prepare doctors for different areas of health care and provide them with an excellent community experience.

“The establishment of our Rural Clinical Schools Program focuses on encouraging medical students to take up rural practice upon graduation, through providing positive clinical education and training experiences in rural areas.

“Our students have completed two pre-clinical years and one clinical year of the graduate course at Notre Dame. They are enthusiastic, keen and committed to learning and being involved with the local community,” said Associate Professor Dean.

St John of God Hospital Ballarat's Chief Executive Officer John Fogarty said they welcome the establishment of Notre Dame's Clinical School at St John of God Hospital as another local initiative to future proof the medical resources required in Ballarat as it continues to grow.

“Our partnership with Notre Dame enhances our existing strong partnerships with Australian Catholic University and University of Ballarat in the development of the health workforce for our region.

“We are certain this new venture will be a great success", said Mr Fogarty.

Student, Kirsten Hepburn, is looking forward to her year in Ballarat and to gaining further practical experience dealing with patients.

“This year promises to be a very exciting one. The Ballarat RCS offers the kind of integrated theory and clinical practice approach that the School of Medicine has always emphasised. I am really looking forward to practising medicine in a rural setting and community,” said Ms Hepburn.

The new Rural Clinical School will be based in historic Baileys Mansion within the hospital grounds. It has a Computer Room with 15 individual computer carrels, a socialising area, and an adjacent 15 seat tutorial room with electronic projection and web education facilities.

Click here to see an article on the opening in the Ballarat Courier

Media Contact: Moira Saunders (+61) 2 8204 4407