people standing on a stairwell

Louis Christie (CSU A/Proff Medicine), Brendan Cantwell (Senior Lecturer in Medicine, Clinical Years Convenor), Sandra Mendel (CSU A/Proff Medicine, Pre clinical convenor) , Karly Field (CSU A/Proff Medicine, Head of Clinical School, Northern Rivers), Pauline Nakate (Lecturer in Medicine, Northern Rivers Rural Clinical School), Lisa Slater (EO Bellinger River District Hospital)

First clinical school of rural medicine opens in Nambucca

May 22, 2024

The Charles Sturt University Rural Medicine Northern Rivers Clinical School officially opened its doors on Wednesday 15 May, with the aim of attracting and retaining local medical students who will train locally.

Established through a partnership with the Mid North Coast Local Health District, this initiative nurtures future rural doctors equipped with the skills for a variety of diverse healthcare environments.

While studying the students are paired with local GP clinics who do placements in at Macksville District and Bellinger River District Hospitals, staying with the same GP clinics for the entire five years of their degree, promoting connection with community and a true integration into the Rural Generalist lifestyle.

Through a curriculum emphasising rural generalist medicine, students gain insight into the role rural practitioners play in delivering comprehensive primary and acute care services while developing relationships and connections in the community.  

The school will have up to five students per year, eventually growing to 15 permanent students in their third, fourth and fifth years of the medical degree.

Director of Emergency Services at Macksville District Hospital, and Head of the Northern Rivers Clinical School, Associate Professor Karly Field said the students are encouraged and supported throughout their placement.

“We have a range of students from the Mid North Coast and Northern NSW, including two who grew up in Coffs Harbour and one from Raleigh.  As someone who grew up locally in the Nambucca Valley, left the area for more than a decade to train, and then returned to serve my community in the Emergency Department, I am so excited that student will have the opportunity to stay and train in their local area. 

The value that this brings to not only their medical education, but also to the community, is incalculable.  As these students embark on their medical careers, they are not only gaining essential rural clinical experience but also laying the groundwork for a future where quality healthcare is accessible to all, regardless of geographical location.” Dr Field said.

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