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Curtin proposes medical school

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Curtin University of Technology has announced a proposal to establish a medical school to help address local and international health and workforce needs.

According to a 2006 World Health Organisation report, there is a global shortage of 4.3 million health care professionals. A 70 per cent increase in healthcare professionals is required to rectify this shortage.

Despite efforts of governments and universities in Australia, there remains a shortage in the medical workforce which will be made worse by the retirement of baby boomers over the next 20 years.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Jeanette Hacket said the medical school proposal would build on Curtin’s innovative approach to health education and be an excellent resource for the State.

“A school of medicine at Curtin would not duplicate existing programs in WA, but would address specific areas of health care such as primary care, chronic disease, ageing, Indigenous and regional health, in line with the Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI) concept,” she said.

“There would be a strong focus on inter-professional education to meet the need for a new type of graduate to address the health challenges of the twenty-first century.”

Professor Hacket said Curtin had a strong history in health education and was well placed to expand its offerings in this area. The University currently educates the majority of nurses, midwives, physiotherapists, pharmacists, occupational therapists, dieticians, social workers and speech pathologists in the State and the Faculty was already pioneering inter-professional education among such allied health professionals.

“Curtin has also established strong partnerships with health bodies such as the Alzheimers’ Association, Silver Chain and the Autism Association, and has integrated health clinics already operational on its Bentley Campus,” Professor Hacket said.

“We are also already collaborating with the University of Notre Dame in the education of its medical students, teaching the majority of the first two years of the course.

“Developing our own medical school will be the natural extension of these roles, although further collaboration with other universities is also a possibility.”

Former Director General of Health, Professor Mike Daube, said Curtin was very well placed to establish a medical school for WA given its excellent record in public health, particularly its strong focus on Indigenous health and preventative health.

“Curtin’s presence in regional WA also makes it an obvious university to address the regional health needs of the State,” he said.

Professor Daube is Director of the Public Health Advocacy Institute at Curtin and President of the Public Health Association of Australia.

The University has contracted the services of another former Director General of Health, Dr Neale Fong, to undertake a study over the next three months to fully explore the proposal.

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