Partners to deliver end-to-end medical training for Darling Downs and South  West

Partners to deliver end-to-end medical training for Darling Downs and South

One hundred future doctors will be training in the Darling Downs and South West regions within three
years – set to ramp up to 120 each year by 2026 – in a partnership between universities and health
The University of Queensland and University of Southern Queensland (USQ), along with Darling
Downs Health (DDH) and South West Hospital and Health Service (SWHHS), have signed a
memorandum of understanding to create a continuous medical education pathway.
The program unveiled today (Monday 6 December) will allow university students to complete all of
their undergraduate and postgraduate studies and practical training in the region.
UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry AO said the partnership would open the door for future
doctors and the health of regional communities.
“This will improve accessibility for our regional, rural and remote students and allow them to study,
train and practice closer to home and in their community,” Professor Terry said.
“At the moment, many talented medical students are completing only a portion of their medical studies
in Toowoomba, and we are thrilled to be able to offer the entire four-year UQ Doctor of Medicine (MD)
program under this partnership.”
The ‘Medical Pathway’ concept is now seen as the future blueprint to improving health outcomes in
regional, rural and remote Queensland, available for postgraduate students from 2024.
The establishment of the Darling Downs – South West Medical Pathway follows the success of a
similar pathway that was established in 2019 when UQ partnered with CQUniversity, and Central
Queensland and Wide Bay Hospital and Health Services.
Darling Downs Health Board Chair Mr Mike Horan AM said with more patients coming through the
doors, a pathway for students to experience rural health was a key priority.
“Across the Darling Downs and South Burnett everything we do comes back to our purpose of
providing high-quality care as close as possible to home, this now includes training our own doctors
and improving the sustainability of our workforce,” Mr Horan said.
“The students will be learning from some of the best rural medical practitioners in Australia and they’ll
experience aspects of healthcare that you won’t get in the metropolitan areas.”
USQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie said the collaboration would help future-proof
the health workforce for years to come.
“In the fullness of time, the pathway will include the opportunity for high school students to apply for
provisional entry to the UQ MD and complete their undergraduate degree with the University of
Southern Queensland,” Professor Mackenzie said.
“For many students, having the support of their family, friends, and the community they grew up in will
help their academic success towards becoming a doctor.”
South West Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Dr Anthony Brown said that the Darling
Downs and South West regions continued to work hard to recruit and retain an appropriate trained
medical workforce, particularly rural generalists and general practitioners.
“We know that doctors who undertake their postgraduate and vocational training in the rural and
remote context are more likely to practice rural and remote medicine after their fellowship and are
more able to answer the needs of the communities they serve,’’ Dr Brown said.
“As part of the partnership, we will provide student placements and internships in our smaller regional
and rural hospitals, as well as our multipurpose health services across the South West regions.”
The full UQ Doctor of Medicine (MD) program will begin in the region partially from 2024 and in full
from 2026.
Further information will be available in 2022.