Ambitious Rocky medical school plan revealed
CQUNIVERSITY could be training its first student doctors at a new medical school on its Rockhampton campus by 2021.
Vice Chancellor Scott Bowman has written to the Australian Medical Council regarding the university's plan for a feasibility study to launch medical schools at its Rockhampton and Bundaberg campuses.
The move is backed by Central Queensland and Wide Bay Hospital and Health Services.
CQUniversity is already training hundreds of students in a large range of health services, including nursing, speech pathology and medical imaging, through its Rockhampton Health Clinic and Prof Bowman said the timing was right for the region to take the next step towards a fully-fledged medical school.
"We think it's time the region was training its own doctors," he said.
"We know if you look at the experience of JCU (James Cook University in Townsville) about 80% of the doctors in North and Far North Queensland who are trained up there stay up there.
"We want our people to be able to train as doctors and stay here as well.
"It has always been a challenge to attract skilled medical professionals to the regions.
"This challenge led CQUniversity to establish a number of allied health courses in the past decade which has helped to fill regional skills shortages.
"At the moment we (CQUniversity) can do every piece of health training; nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapist, speech pathologists, radiographers - everything apart from doctors."
The "absolute best case scenario" for the start-up of a medical school would see the first students arrive here in 2020-21.
The early estimates would involve between 20 to 30 medical students at the Rockhampton centre and also the Bundaberg school in partnership with Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service and Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service.
The medical school would offer a four-year postgraduate medical degree on top of a completed three-year undergraduate course, such as biology or nursing.
"They do their medical training and after that into general practitioner training, a basic medical or surgical degree, and then specialise after that," Mr Bowman explained.
"We have had some very positive talks with the health authorities (in Rockhampton and Bundaberg).
"We would be look at working with clinicians in the hospitals. Some of the clinicians would become professors and teach into the medical degrees."
Mr Bowman said setting up the school would include obtaining the necessary accreditations, securing the staff and acquiring the extra facilities and specialised equipment.
He said this was a challenging process but the university was determined to push ahead with its vision for the region despite negotiating the impact of the Federal Government's proposed funding freeze for new students.
Representatives from both Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service and Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service have shared their support for the prospect of partnering with CQUniversity to establish a medical school.
CQ Health Chief Executive Steve Williamson said the university's plan worked perfectly with the health service's long-term vision Destination 2030: Great Care for Central Queenslanders.
"A partnership between CQ Health, Wide Bay Health and CQUniversity to develop a medical school is an extremely exciting prospect for our staff, but more importantly for the people of Central Queensland and the Wide Bay," Mr Williamson said.
"It would also be the first step to our ultimate aim of gaining University Hospital status.
"It will also be a massive boost to the economic viability of Rockhampton, Gladstone, Emerald and Biloela, and our neighbours in the Wide Bay," Mr Williamson said.