The reputation of South East New South Wales as a training ground for future doctors and other health professionals is getting deeper, with ground broken on the second of three new training and education facilities in the region.
The University of Canberra (UC) and the Australian National University (ANU) are pioneering a joint venture – The South East NSW Health Collaborative, with the construction of purpose-built facilities at Cooma, Bega, and Moruya hospitals.
Yesterday’s (August 21) sod-turning ceremony at South East Regional Hospital (Bega) comes just a week after a start on the Cooma project. Approvals for the Moruya facility are being worked through at the moment, but Bega and Cooma are scheduled to be online March – April next year.
All three facilities will provide training capability for learning and research in medicine, nursing, midwifery and allied health, backed by $8 million from the Commonwealth Government.
Executive Dean of the UC Faculty of Health Professor Michelle Lincoln says the project is a significant investment in rural healthcare.
“These facilities will also create huge potential for collaboration, meaningful exchange and professional development, and help to grow the involvement of our UC Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health students in the hospital and broader Bega community.”
The new Bega facility, is at the southern end of the hospital site, next to the recently completed carers’ accommodation, and replaces temporary space that has been a base for the ANU program.
Associate Dean, Rural and Indigenous Health and Head, Rural Clinical School, ANU Medical School Associate Professor Malcolm Moore says this was an exciting new phase of a long connection between ANU and the Bega Valley.
“Healthcare in the future will require working in teams and this facility will assist in developing those skills and inter-professional relationships,” he says.
“We look forward to playing an important role in the development of our future doctors and health professionals, and ensuring they understand the needs of our regional, rural and remote communities.”
UC student accommodation will be built on-site at the South East Regional Hospital, alongside the clinical training facility, while ANU has off-site accommodation arrangments.
Dr Nathan Oates is proof that the rural training model works, “I trained here (Bega) 13 years ago, I am an anesthetist here now and helping coordinate anesthetics at the hospital.”
“The environment of the South Coast is one of the best parts of the world, we’ve traveled around a lot and really appreciate what this place has to offer.
“But when I was here [training] for that year there were two things that really stood out – the people supervising me down here and the clinical experience.
“There are some outstanding clinicians down here, it was the best year of medical school.”
Dr Oates says being part of a team and part of the community has been very rewarding, “you are not just another number.”
“We deal with a wide range of procedures here and because we have a smaller workforce you end up getting involved in a wider range of clinical activities.
“You get presented with challenges that you just have to deal with and in a bigger hospital, you’d probably have to send that to someone else. That is clinically challenging and satisfying.”
Dr Oates has come full circle and is now teaching medical students in the very ANU program that supported him.
“I am really excited about this new building here, we are really looking forward to this facility.”