Council questions return in medical student program

The Goulburn Base Hospital has been a destination for medical students seeking rural placements for the past 16 years in Goulburn.
The Goulburn Base Hospital has been a destination for medical students seeking rural placements for the past 16 years in Goulburn.

A report released by the Goulburn Mulwaree Council has suggested ceasing annual financial aid to the NSW Rural Doctor Network Bush Bursary/ CWA scholarship program due to a lack of students returning to town.

The initiative, which allows medical students to gain two weeks experience at a hospital and/or practice for rural placement, is currently supported by a $3,300 grant from council plus accommodation. 

This money has been previously sourced from the Financial Assistance Grants. 

Director of Business Services Brendan Hollands proposed a discontinuation of direct financial funding but a continued support to supply promotional material. 

“In recent years the medical practices have shown reduced interest in hosting a student, resulting in the students spending their entire time at the hospital,” the report said.

“At this point in time we are not aware that any of the students that have participated in the program in Goulburn have returned to Goulburn and therefore questions need to be asked about the long term benefit.”

Involved in the program since 2001, the report also cited the coordination of council staff. 

Students who would previously split their time in Goulburn Base Hospital and a medical practice, now spend all their time in the hospital. 

“For this reason and the amount of administrative tasks and additional expenses incurred through Council’s participation in the program,” the report continued.

“It is recommended that Council advise the NSW Rural Doctors Bush Bursary program that it is discontinuing its participation in the program.”

Funding for this was previously provided under Council’s Community Grants and Donations Scheme which has recently undergone a full review.  

Students from the Universities of Wollongong, New South Wales, Notre Dame, Newcastle, New England and the Australian National University participated in last year’s program.