UNSW and Mid North Coast Local Health District to boost research and students in rural communities


The strategic partnership will place UNSW students at local hospitals and streamline research collaboration opportunities.

UNSW Sydney has signed an historic three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD), to help identify potential collaborative research opportunities and place undergraduate students in local rural health facilities.

UNSW Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Attila Brungs said he was pleased to join MNCLHD Chief Executive Stewart Dowrick in signing the agreement on Friday.

“This is an exciting opportunity for all of us. The partnership will offer our students the option to learn critical skills in a vibrant rural area, and there is the potential for both parties to engage in cutting-edge research projects together,” Prof. Brungs said.

“Placing undergraduate students in rural areas means they experience the benefits of working in the regions, understand the increased complexities of rural work, and are more likely to remain and successfully practice in a local community. This is part of our strategy to deliver highly trained medical professionals for the future of our regions.”

Mr Dowrick said the MoU would further strengthen the long-held partnership between the university and local health district.

“This strategic partnership will ensure that we continue to provide placements in our local hospitals, training the next generation of doctors to practice in rural and regional areas, while also capitalising on valuable research opportunities,” Mr Dowrick said.

The MoU focuses on providing high quality student placement and teaching and learning experiences for undergraduate medical students. Specifically, it offers:

  • Independent Learning Projects – 4th year medical students complete a detailed research project within the LHD.
  • Further consolidation and collaboration with UNSW to jointly develop and submit competitive National Health and Medical Research Council and Medical Research Future Fund research grant applications.

UNSW Associate Dean Rural Health and Head, Rural Clinical Campuses (RCC), Professor Tara Mackenzie, said the agreement ensures UNSW research has a practical impact on the local community.

“Together we will promote and progress our shared commitment to high-quality clinical placements and collaborative research with a strong focus on local rural medical and health projects in local hospital and clinical environments,” she said.

“Increasing local research capacity and aligned supervisory skills and experience in our communities will ensure we achieve ongoing strategic growth within the relationship.”

Prof. Mackenzie said the partnership will also enable UNSW RCC to develop research capacity that has a strong rural community health focus, encouraging and supporting rural students to publish their research and to complete their medical education with a deeper understanding of how we generate medical knowledge in relation to the health of rural and remote communities.

“The benefit of rural students developing longstanding relationships with clinical supervisors will serve them and our communities in their future careers,” she said.

/Public Release.