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New $4.2m UQ medical center to boost rural doctor numbers

The University of Queensland is helping to increase medical support in rural communities through its new $4.2 million advanced clinical training facility.

UQ's Rural Clinical School, the biggest in Australia, has added a Teaching and Learning Centre to its portfolio, with space to accommodate up to 80 students.

The Centre, adjacent to the Toowoomba Base Hospital in West Street, will provide third and fourth year medical students with access to state-of-the-art teaching spaces, a dedicated Clinical Skills Laboratory, advanced audiovisual equipment, 24-hour computer lab and a Lectopia educational recording system.

UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Greenfield said the University was confident the new infrastructure, combined with expansion in the Rural Clinical School's other areas including Rockhampton, Bundaberg and Hervey Bay-Maryborough, would give students an added incentive to try a rural clinical experience.

"We've invested a total of more than $13 million in the Rural Clinical School's teaching and learning infrastructure, libraries and student accommodation over the past six years," Professor Greenfield said.

"Being Australia's largest rural clinical school, in the nation's largest medical school, it has the potential to make a tangible impact on the medical workforce shortage in rural areas."

Professor David Wilkinson, Head of the School of Medicine, said UQ would work in collaboration with the Toowoomba Health Service District and the Clinical Skills Centre at the Royal Brisbane & Women's Hospital to position Toowoomba as an advanced clinical training centre.

Professor Wilkinson said many general practices in Toowoomba had closed their books to new patients which placed a significant strain on local emergency departments.

He said the new Teaching and Learning Centre would allow the School to provide a positive clinical training experience, which was known to increase rural medical career placements.

School students will be able to meet Centre staff and students to learn about health career opportunities, while the Centre will also work with local professionals to increase medical support in the rural sector.

The building's striking design is enhanced through environmentally sustainable aspects.

These include self-supporting glass walls, solar energy for winter heating and a smart air-conditioning system to independently control different sections of the facility.

The funding for the building and land was provided by the Australian Government's Department of Health and Ageing as part of its Rural Health Strategy which includes the provision of funding assistance to a national network of 14 rural clinical schools.

The Centre also includes staff offices, a meeting room, library, dining area and gymnasium.


Contact: Eliza Plant
Research Australia

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