Siblings Among Newest Rural Medical Pathway Cohort

Standing out amongst a crowd of more than 220 eligible applicants vying for just 15 places in La Trobe University’s Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Medical) is no easy feat, especially alongside a family member.

But Queensland siblings, Amelie and Mackenzie Hall, proved they were up for the challenge and have arrived at the Albury-Wodonga campus to commence their studies in the undergraduate portion of the sought-after, end-to-end rural medical training program, run in collaboration with the University of Melbourne.

The 15 students selected for the program met the criteria for living in a regional or rural Australian location, for either five years consecutively or 10 cumulatively, and demonstrated their passion for advancing medicine outside of metropolitan areas.

“This degree is ideal for a student who wants to practice medicine in a regional area and has first-hand experience of the health care disparities faced by regional and rural people,” Course Coordinator for Biomedical Science (Medical), Dr Cathryn Hogarth said.

“We are looking for students that have contributed to their regional community through volunteering or service and are committed to continued regional living.”

More than 180 prospective students were invited for an interview as part of the selection process, the highest number since the program’s inception in 2018. The panel, which included Dr Hogarth, interviewed people from every state and territory in Australia.

The Hall’s are the first regional Queensland applicants to accept their offer into this degree, relocating from Flaxton on the Sunshine Coast hinterland.

“We are lucky to be able to do our medical degree in the same town and support each other throughout the course; it will be a huge family celebration when we both graduate in seven years,” Mackenzie, the eldest, said.

“This Rural Medical Pathway stood out because I’m going to be studying in an area where I could potentially work in. We’ll have first-hand experience in the region through placements and living locally.”

Born at 26 weeks gestation, Mackenzie and his family witnessed the shortfalls of rural medicine and the absence of specialist doctors, such as neurologists and cardiologists, in smaller rural communities.

“I want to pursue rural medicine because I have experienced the inequities faced in the regional healthcare system. At the end of my studies, I would like to be able to practice rurally as a general surgeon,” Mackenzie said.

The rural pathway was co-designed by the two universities and following students’ completion of the undergraduate course, offered at Albury-Wodonga and Bendigo, they will commence the four-year Doctor of Medicine (Rural Pathway) postgraduate degree at the University of Melbourne’s Shepparton campus provided students maintain a weighted average mark of 70.

“This pathway with La Trobe University gives students the rural exposure, while the guaranteed entry into the University of Melbourne’s Doctor of Medicine postgraduate was another highlight,” Amelie said.

“I can’t wait to study a medicine pathway at a regional campus in a new area of Albury-Wodonga and I look forward to becoming an active member of the community in various sports and volunteering roles, as well as advocate the importance of giving back to the community you live in.”

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