RURAL clinical schools designed to encourage more medical students to practice in country areas are failing.
That's according to Charles Sturt University medical consultant Professor John Dwyer.
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But his view is not shared by the Rural Doctors Association of Victoria.
Prof Dwyer said despite the "sterling efforts of medical staff in rural Australia to help train medical students, city medical schools are not achieving their goal".
He said the schools, set up to provide medical students with rural experience, were "not making any real difference to the number of rural doctors".
CSU was "waiting on a response from the Federal Government to the recommendations of the cross-party Senate Committee, which recommended the establishment of a new medical school (at CSU) to address the chronic shortages of GPs and specialists in rural practice".
But RDAV president Mike Moynihan said it was "premature" to say whether the system of rural training schools was leading to more rural doctors.
"In Victoria, the system needs at least five more years before we can see if it is working," he said.
But Dr Moynihan said his association would "like to see regional hospitals consolidating these programs by absorbing interns from rural clinical schools".
He said career paths of rural and regional doctors were "not inferior to city doctors, as some in the city would suggest". "The pay is the same, rural doctors have had a reputation for excellence, and the work is more varied and interesting."
But Dr Moynihan said federal funding was at risk, due to budget pressures.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Ageing said "the number of medical practitioners increased by 25.4 per cent in remote or very remote areas over the 2007-2011 period".