New facilities steer ‘home-grown’ UQ medical grads to rural practice

22 Oct 2015

The University of Queensland has opened medical training centres at Bundaberg and Hervey Bay to boost the stream of ‘home-grown’ doctors to rural communities.

The UQ Rural Clinical School (UQRCS) today (24 October) officially opened the $2.4 million UQ Health Sciences Learning and Discovery Centre at Bundaberg and the $1.9 million centre at Hervey Bay – both featuring state-of-the-art interactive clinical simulation facilities.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said the centres were part of a wider commitment the University had made to invest across its rural academic sites.

“The centres are purpose-built to offer a high-quality clinical training environment comparable to the best facilities offered anywhere in the world,” Professor Høj said.

“Australians in regional and remote areas on average face greater health care challenges, higher injury rates and higher mortality rates, so we need the best doctors to be rural doctors.

“That’s why UQ, and the State and Federal Governments have partnered to deliver a locally-trained and self-sustaining rural, regional and remote medical workforce of home-grown medical graduates.

“UQ operates one of Australia’s largest rural clinical schools, so our investment will help to ensure students who train rurally get the very best education and are more likely to return to or remain in rural areas after they finish their degree.”

UQ research has shown that students from rural backgrounds who complete at least a year of their medical training at a rural clinical school are more likely to continue training in the local hospital or serve in rural communities as qualified doctors.

UQ Rural Clinical School Head Associate Professor Riitta Partanen said rurally-trained medical students got a taste of the diversity of the rural lifestyle, clinical hands-on experience, smaller classes, greater one-on-one exposure to specialists and trainers, and had the chance to become part of a working clinical team.

She said the Learning and Discovery Centres were a boon to the entire community, benefitting students and local health professionals alike.

“Our co-location on hospital grounds enables us to build relationships with outstanding teaching clinicians who not only welcome our students into their teams, but use our teaching spaces for professional development and community health education opportunities,” Associate Professor Partanen said.

“The centres feature Simulated Learning Environments and make training more interactive and more realistic than ever before.

“What’s more, our technology ensures students can observe training in an onsite lecture theatre or remotely from their desktop from anywhere in the world.

“Best of all, we are then able to record and store clinical scenarios and offer a library of experiences to students to further enhance their learning.”

Federal Member for Hinkler Mr Keith Pitt MP officially opened the buildings.

Caption: (back, from left) Professor Nicholas Fisk, Executive Dean, Faculty of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, UQ; Mr Stephen Bennett MP, Member for Burnett, Shadow Minister for Environment, Heritage Protection and National Parks; Dr Vanessa Greig, Director, UQ Rural Clinical School, Bundaberg, UQ; Mr Keith Pitt MP, Federal Member for Hinkler; (front, from left) Councillor Mal Forman, Mayor of Bundaberg Regional Council; Professor Peter Høj, Vice-Chancellor and President, UQ; Ms Leanne Donaldson MP, Member for Bundaberg; Mr John Story AO, Chancellor, UQ; Professor Darrell Crawford, Head, School of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, UQ; Associate Professor Riitta Partanen, (Acting) Head, Rural Clinical School, UQ.

Media: UQ communications, 07 3346 0561,; Kate Gadenne,, 07 3365 5018.