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UWS Blacktown-Mt Druitt Clinical School set to train home-grown doctors

Date: 05/10/2007

The University of Western Sydney's School of Medicine has launched its new clinical school for Blacktown - an important clinical facility to train more home-grown doctors for Greater Western Sydney.

Based at Blacktown Hospital, the Blacktown-Mt Druitt Clinical School is one of the key sites where UWS medical students develop their clinical skills and gain vital on-the-job hospital training.

The UWS School of Medicine had its historic first intake of 103 students earlier this year, with almost 60 per cent of those enrolled in the five-year Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery degree proud western Sydney locals.

The Blacktown-Mt Druitt Clinical School, which already began teaching a small number of medical students earlier this year, is a partnership with the Sydney West Area Health Service.

The NSW State Government announced it is funding four academic positions for the Clinical School. The appointees will teach students, undertake research and provide clinical care and leadership.

The Commonwealth Government has also contributed $3 million in funding for the University toward the cost of building a Clinical Campus adjacent to Blacktown Hospital to accommodate the growing number of UWS medical students who will be based there full-time from 2009.

This is the second clinical school for the UWS School of Medicine, with the University opening its Macarthur Clinical School at Campbelltown Hospital in March.

UWS Vice-Chancellor, Professor Janice Reid, says the Blacktown-Mt Druitt Clinical School is a major boost for health care in Blacktown and its surrounding areas.

"The University's School of Medicine is helping address our national medical workforce shortages by training extra doctors to work across Greater Western Sydney's hospitals, health services and general practices - a region where there currently aren't enough GPs and specialists to keep pace with this rapidly-expanding population," says Professor Reid.

"For every GP in the Greater West, three are living and working in the rest of Sydney. Only one in six medical specialists in Sydney lives in the west.

"The Blacktown-Mt Druitt Clinical School will also help strengthen teaching, medical research and clinical leadership in the region by drawing professors, researchers and a specialist trainee medical workforce to the Hospital and surrounding area health services."

Like the Macarthur Clinical School, the Blacktown-Mt Druitt Clinical School operates as a clinical facility where students receive much of their practical training and mentoring from senior specialists, nurses and other allied health professionals.

The Blacktown-Mt Druitt Clinical School's inaugural Dean is Associate Professor Peter Zelas.

Students in the first two years of their degree spend a few hours each week at the Blacktown-Mt Druitt Clinical School developing skills such as interacting and communicating with patients, conducting examinations and making a diagnosis, and learning how to use medical equipment.

From 2009 onwards students are then based at the Clinical School full-time while they undergo clinical attachments at Blacktown, Mt Druitt as well as other nearby hospitals during third, fourth and fifth years.

Professor Reid says the University plans to significantly develop the Blacktown-Mt Druitt Clinical School facilities over the coming years as the UWS medical student population increases and more clinical professors are appointed.

"UWS is currently planning with both Federal and NSW State Governments to develop a major new Clinical Campus adjacent to the Blacktown Hospital building," she says.

"The University welcomes the announcement of $3 million in capital funding from the Federal Government to contribute to the cost of developing a Clinical Campus that can be used by the many students who will be undertaking clinical training at the Hospital full-time from 2009 onwards."

The Blacktown-Mt Druitt Clinical Campus development is expected to comprise:

- clinical skills simulation laboratory
- teaching spaces including tutorial rooms, student common areas and computer rooms for students
- research facilities, including wet laboratories for clinical academics carrying out research
- auditorium for weekly meetings, conferences and lectures
- UWS health sciences library
- administration areas and office space for the Clinical Dean, academics and Clinical School support staff.

"The UWS School of Medicine has received outstanding support from all levels of government, local politicians and the community," says Professor Reid.

"The Federal Government is contributing Commonwealth-supported medical places as well as major capital development funding for infrastructure.

"The NSW Government, through NSW Health and area health services, is providing support by way of hospital space for teaching and administration, student clinical training placements, and funding for clinical professor positions.

"The University looks forward to working with all our supporters well into the future to continue to develop the School of Medicine for the people of Greater Western Sydney."


Media Services Manager
Amanda Whibley
02 9678 7084, 0418 438 399

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