Health students flocking to Central West to experience work opportunities


Increasing numbers of university health students are discovering the benefits of living and working in Queensland’s Central West rural and remote communities.

Murtupuni Central for Rural and Remote Health (MCRRH) provides rural training for medical, nursing, midwifery, dental and allied health students in the region.

For the past eight years MCRRH’s Longreach-based Central West Site Coordinator, Peter Coombes, has assisted students during their clinical placements in hospitals, pharmacies, primary health clinics and schools.

This year there are more than 150 students in the Central West as part of the Australian Government-funded Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program, supported by James Cook University.

About 45 per cent are based in Longreach with the remainder mainly in Barcaldine, Blackall and Winton, but at times Alpha, Aramac, Boulia and Muttaburra. As part of their placement they travel as far as Birdsville, Jundah, Stonehenge and Windorah.

“That’s a significant increase since 2014 when MCRRH facilitated up to 60 student placements, and is a real indication that students are interested in experiencing both the work and lifestyle in rural and remote areas,” Mr Coombes said.

“From my experience there is a clear connection between the provision of student accommodation and students wanting to come to rural and remote areas.

“Our fully-furnished accommodation facilities not only provide a home away from home for students, but also enables them to meet students from other health disciplines.

“When you provide good furnished and equipped accommodation there is a greater chance of increasing placement numbers in the regions.

“Our experience is that students experiencing a strong community spirit and meeting friendly locals influences their decisions to return to regions to live and work.

“Our overall mission is to improve health outcomes for the region and we can say we definitely have.”

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