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Rural and Regional Health

Doctors for rural and regional NSW

UOW Graduate School of Medicine is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of people living in rural, regional and remote areas who are currently at disadvantage with limited access to skilled medical professionals. The continued building of outreach through UOW’s extensive community training network incorporating 22 regional, district and base hospitals in addition to approximately 70 partner teaching medical practices across rural and regional Australia seeks to address the maldistribution of the rural health workforce across Australia.

The UOW Postgraduate Medical Training Pipeline Program is one of UOW’s initiatives to attract and retain postgraduate doctors in rural and regional NSW. A particular strength of UOW is our reputation for rural clinical training and the existing rural networks which ensure a collaborative approach in enhancing the pipeline from medical school through to rural or regional practice.

UOW’s Graduate School of Medicine continues to build our rural and regional outreach to improve the quality of care given to patients in country hospitals and rural practices. UOW believes that an important part of improving rural and regional health is to ensure that the people affected most – communities, patients and their families – are included in the process.


  • From 2018 the medical program at UOW is offering a four-year Doctor of Medicine (MD). This degree replaces the Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery degree (MBBS).
  • The UOW medical program will continue to contribute to both workforce solutions for rural and regional Australia and increased capacity in rural communities through the inclusion of students and local healthcare teams and their social immersion in these regions.
  • UOW will expand its activities in research on health issues facing regional and rural Australia, including through our involvement in NSW Regional Health Partners, Australia’s first NHMRC-recognised Centre for Innovation in Regional Health.
  1. The Graduate School of Medicine delivers an outcomes-focussed, clinically-guided curriculum that is complemented by clinical skills laboratory learning experiences, and the provision of community-based, clinical educational opportunities.
  2. All senior students are required to undertake the year-long clinical training program integrated across community health services and hospitals, two-thirds of whom do so in a rural setting – a feature which is unique in Australia and done by only a handful of medical schools worldwide.
  3. We provide outstanding financial and pastoral support to students throughout the four years of the program.
  4. We are working to increase the number of Indigenous students. UOW offers an alternative entry pathway for Indigenous applicants and dedication of three Commonwealth supported places annually to Indigenous students.
  5. Provide a strengthened medical education linkage from the UOW School of Medical, Indigenous and Health Sciences based in Wollongong to the rural and regional hubs.
  6. Our commitment to rural medical education reaches across NSW, including a dedicated rural research plan
  1. Improve the quality of care given to patients in country hospitals and rural practices by addressing the maldistribution of the rural medical workforce across Australia
  2. Provide training along the pathway from student to medical professional in rural areas
  3. Provide systems that will support the internships, rotations or mentoring of the growing number of students in rural areas
  4. Provide educational support, direct clinical supervision and mentoring of all doctors in postgraduate training and clinical practice

As part of the Pipeline Program, UOW has recently been successful in procuring Australian Government funding, together with the University of Sydney, for the development of a Regional Training Hub on the North Coast region of NSW. Although the two universities will work in close collaboration, UOW will focus on the Clarence Valley region, while the University of Sydney will focus on the Lismore region.

The priorities of the Regional Training Hub are to:

  • Identify students with an interest in practicing rurally
  • Develop and enhance existing postgraduate regional training capacity
  • Provide a central network for the coordination of all existing medical training activities in the region
  • Develop new and strengthen existing connections
  • Continue to monitor population health and workforce needs over time

Clarence Valley Regional Training Hub (RTH)

Linking students to rural and regional opportunities

Dr Alastair McInnes talks about his experiences as Regional Academic Leader of the UOW Doctor of Medicine (MD) program in the Grafton/Maclean region.

Hear from alumni and students

I'm I'm Doctor Alistair McInnes. 

I've worked in the emergency department of my hometown hospital Grafton, for 30 years. 

And for the last 14 years I've been involved in the phase three training program for the University of Wollongong. 

And I'm the original academic leader for the senior students that come here for 12 month attachments. 

So the students get to come here and are placed next to senior clinicians, one-on-one, GP specialists, people like myself in emergency, and they just get an unfiltered education. 

They thrive on it. 

And the the, I must say that's the selection criteria they use down there must be incredible because we've had fantastic students come through and they're just like sponges and they're really dedicated to their work. 

So on our training days, which are Wednesdays, we usually start the day by doing a simulation with some of the Ed doctors and then we sit down as a group and we do a case based learning activity. 

So on placement days in the Grafton Hub, I've gotten to assist in a lot of surgeries. 

That includes general surgery, orthopaedics and even obstetric surgery such as C sections. 

We all have to present at what's called the hospital grand rounds to all the doctors from the different teams and a lot of the allied health and nursing people are there as well. 

So I'll be interning at Wollongong and doing my resident at Wollongong and then post that probably long term. 

Hopefully he can go rural again. 

There's lots of placements I've really enjoyed. 

I wish I could say that I could pick one. 

However, I think that's a reflection of there's so many options in medicine and I've enjoyed every option as well. 

So yeah, it's been really good so far.