RARELY more than a few students who grew up in south-west Victoria attend Deakin's Warrnambool medical school, but that trend could soon change.
The university, which offers postgraduate medical degrees through a school based at South West Healthcare, plans to offer 30 places in 2022 to students who come from the south-west and Grampians regions.
Associate professor Barry Morphett, the clinical school's head and a former Warrnambool surgeon of 36 years, said the school wanted to give local students who planned to work in the region an advantage. "The evidence has shown if you live in the region, went to school and trained here, you are more likely to stay in the region," Dr Morphett said.
He said the school currently had few local students and many didn't stay working in the region. "We might only have a few people who are truly from the region, we want to increase that number from say two-out-of-25 to the majority," Dr Morphett said.
At present, students study an undergraduate degree in fields like science or biomedicine, before sitting a GAMSAT exam that ranks them among a pool of 4000 students vying for a spot among the 50 who come to the Warrnambool school.
But potential students who come from the south-west under criteria the university is still finalising will instead compete for a spot in a different pool of candidates offering 30 regional places.
"Once they have completed undergrad we are going to siphon off people from our region and put them into a special pathway so they are only competing with each other," Dr Morphett said. "Once they get into medicine they will then come to rural clinical schools at Warrnambool, Ballarat, or GP placement programs."
He said a second stage of the plan in years to come would guarantee entry to local year 12 school leavers, based on an interview and their commitment to work locally. Warrnambool Deakin University director Alistair McCosh said the pathway could mean more of the city's campus undergraduate students saw a local pathway into postgraduate medicine.
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