FIFTEEN students were selected as part of the initial intake into Victoria’s first end-to-end rural medical program – a partnership established in 2019 between La Trobe and the University of Melbourne, designed to help solve Victoria’s rural doctor shortage.

The intake includes three students from La Trobe University who were originally from Mildura.

The students, who grew up across regional Victoria and NSW and were co-selected by both universities, have just completed a Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Medical) at the Bendigo and Albury Wodonga campuses.

Three further students gained direct entry to the Doctor of Medicine (Rural Pathway) via the usual, highly competitive national application process, after completing La Trobe undergraduate degrees.

Minister for Regional Health, Dr David Gillespie, visited Shepparton to congratulate the students, along with Federal Member for Nicholls, Damian Drum; Vice-Chancellor at La Trobe University, Professor John Dewar and Dean Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at University of Melbourne, Professor Jane Gunn.

Minister Gillespie commended both the University of Melbourne and La Trobe University on their successful collaboration.

Professor Dewar congratulated the 18 students for the many years of hard work they have put in to get to this point.

“We know that these students are stand-outs amongst their peers, not just for their ability and hard work, but for their passion to contribute to the regional communities they grew up in,” Professor Dewar said.

“As a university deeply embedded in regional communities, we are very proud of this program, and how these students will contribute to building the country’s rural health workforce once they graduate.”

Professor Dewar particularly acknowledged the three students who gained direct entry to the University of Melbourne’s Doctor of Medicine (Rural Pathway).

“It is a testament to their extraordinary abilities, and La Trobe’s high-quality biomedical science and pharmacy degrees that these students were selected from hundreds of applicants across the country for this world-class course,” Professor Dewar said.

The rural medical program was announced in the Federal Government’s 2018-2019 Budget, and involves a unique collaboration between the two universities which have a long and respected track record in medical, health and rural education.

Thirty students commence in the University of Melbourne’s Doctor of Rural Medicine each year, at the University’s Shepparton campus.

A $6.5 million upgrade to the campus is expected to be completed in early 2022, including new student accommodation and expanded teaching spaces.

Fifteen of the 18 students will relocate to the University of Melbourne’s Shepparton campus to start their Doctor of Medicine (Rural Pathway) in 2022 – while two have deferred until 2023.

ABOVE: Abigail Rowe and Madeline Beckwith, originally from Mildura, will be part of the intake of students who will attend the Shepparton campus. Photo: SHIOBAN DOWNING.