Monash Rural Health discusses impact

The centrality of medical services and infrastructure to a thriving Bendigo was on the agenda at a Be.Bendigo lunch on Tuesday.

The event, part of Be.Bendigo’s “boardroom lunch” series, was co-hosted by Monash Rural Health.

Associate Professor Chris Holmes said it was great to see so many local business and community leaders take an interest how health and medical services, and rural medical training, support a growing and successful Bendigo.

Monash Rural Health, a multi-site school within Monash University’s Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, has played a long-term role in shaping the medical expertise and services available to Bendigo residents.

“Each year Bendigo welcomes new students into its community through our programs. These students make connections, forge friendships, invite family to visit. Their presence has great flow-on benefits for the Bendigo community and economy,” Associate Professor Holmes said.

Monash has recently established a regional training hub in Bendigo, and in last week’s budget it became clear how important the new hub will be for Bendigo.

“Our hub in Bendigo and in Warragul will be pivotal in addressing the medical specialist shortages we face here. And the big budget news — hot off the press — is that these training hubs will be linked into the $95 million Murray Darling Medical Schools Network.

“Monash will get a share of this investment in rural medical education, and much of it will flow to Bendigo because of its central role in a new end-to-end medical training program,” he said.

The end-to-end training will mean medical students can complete all of their training in a rural setting such as Bendigo and then undertake specialist training here. Students will not have  to return to Melbourne to pursue specialisation training.

“It will be a great thing for Bendigo that these students will be able to stay here — we won’t have to lose them to Melbourne any more. This will significantly strengthen and broaden Bendigo’s medical service capabilities and infrastructure.”

Associate Professor Holmes said that new research had revealed that when medical students undertake placements in regional communities, such as Bendigo, it can have an impact on their long-term career goals and whether they are open to working outside of the big cities.

“This is why the rural medical training provided by Monash is so important. The experience they get really encourages them to ‘think rural’ — they see the career possibilities and career satisfactions that rural medicine offers. This can only be a good thing for Bendigo.”