Medical school in the works for Bundaberg
A BOLD new vision to both grow and hold the region's future doctors in the Wide Bay is officially in the works following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding yesterday.
The project aims to develop and deliver a medical program in the Wide Bay and Central Queensland regions, meaning local medical students will have the opportunity to complete their education in the region.
Yesterday, representatives from CQUniversity Australia, The University of Queensland, Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service and Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service committed to work together to ensure it becomes a reality.
Chief Executive of the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service Adrian Pennington said securing this first step was the result of "years of discussions" with other parties.
Mr Pennington said a strong focus on both growing the skills of local young people studying medicine and offering the opportunity to grow their career locally was a key goal.
"The priority for any development in the medical workforce is attracting people that actually care and relate to local community, and that is the problem here at the moment," Mr Pennington said.
"Young people leave here to go to university in other towns and we have a lot of doctors that don't come back to us because they're not placed or trained here ... we believe we can change that and that's the primary focus."
The plan is to have the medical program in place by 2022, starting with 30 students in Central Queensland and up to 30 in Wide Bay; growing each year to reach at least 120 students in each area by 2026.
"The next stage is working through steps to establish structures and sign off on a curriculum, which could take six to 12 months," Mr Pennington said.
Wide Bay Hospital and Health Board Chair Peta Jamieson said patients would benefit, with local clinicians trained to treat local conditions in local hospitals.
She said the long-term goal was to have a "highly skilled population grow" in the community and to attract skilled professionals to the region.
"A more sustainable medical workforce means greater continuity of care and improved health outcomes, which is crucial as regional communities continue to grow." she said.