Rural medical education strengthened

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Winter 9-8-2006

Publisher Name

The Univeristy of Notre Dame, Fremantle

Publication Place



The University of Western Australia and The University of Notre Dame Australia signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Wednesday, August 9, 2006.

The MOU will forge a new partnership in delivering rural medical education. It will combine expertise and resources from both universities to support rural clinical training for WA medical students through the formation of the joint UWA – Notre Dame Rural Clinical School. The pooling of expertise and resources between two medical schools is a national first. Funding has been provided by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing through its ‘Regional Health Strategy’.

"This far sighted strategy has provided funding to universities for the establishment of rural clinical schools on a national basis that will secure a rural education and training network, and increase the availability and viability of rural health services in the long term," UWA Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alan Robson said.

"At Notre Dame we aim to provide our students with excellent rural experiences, in the hope that these experiences will encourage our graduates to practise in areas of unmet need. The UWA – Notre Dame Rural Clinical School will assist us greatly in achieving this outcome," Dr Peter Tannock, Vice-Chancellor, Notre Dame said.

The UWA Rural Clinical School was set up in 2002 with its headquarters in Kalgoorlie and sites in Geraldton, Broome and Port Hedland. Starting with a pilot group of seven students, it now has 37 students and academic and administrative staff in the eight sites. Over 90 students have completed their year of study in the bush.

Twenty-five percent of students in third year from Notre Dame and fifth year from UWA will enrol in the Rural Clinical School (RCS) for the entire 2007 academic year. For that year they will be located in the current RCS sites in Albany, Broome (including Derby/Kununurra), Esperance, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Karratha, and Port Hedland, and in two new sites to be opened in Bunbury and Narrogin. There will be a common curriculum for all students delivered by local academic staff and through web-based applications.

Research has shown that students located in a Rural Clinical School for one year of their course do equally as well, if not better, than their fellow students who remained in the metropolitan area. There is also early strong evidence that they are returning to complete their postgraduate studies in the bush.