Lithgow Rural Clinical School

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Associate Professor Dr John Dearin, Head of the University of Notre Dame Lithgow Rural Clinical School, describes Lithgow as a “Learning City”. Since the opening of the Rural Clinical School in 2007, a new medical school building in 2013 and the University of Western Sydney’s University College in 2014, Lithgow’s reputation as a centre for regional excellence in education has grown.

“Already we have had a number of our graduates enter rural practice as Interns and Resident Medical Officers and Junior Registrars in Wagga Wagga, Maitland and Orange base hospitals,” explains Dr Dearin.

“The Rural Clinical School has been wonderfully received by the people of Lithgow who have felt justly proud of the fact that we not only have a Medical School here but also have two universities training students for the future in a variety of disciplines.”

Medical students at Lithgow Rural Clinical School are immersed in all aspects of Hospital and Community Medicine, including prison health at the nearby maximum security Lithgow Correctional Centre. Students will be able to explore the multifaceted dimensions of rural medicine with dedicated teachers who have made rural medicine their passion, as they participate in daily ward rounds, General Practice attachments, palliative care, surgery, anaesthetics and maternity care.

The Lithgow Rural Clinical School of the University of Notre Dame Australia is located beside Lithgow Hospital. The public hospital is a 46 bed facility, complete with a maternity unit, operating theatres, specialist consulting rooms and a full suite of Allied Health Services.

The Clinical School is a purpose-built, architecturally designed, $4.8 million campus which opened in January 2013. The campus includes staff and administration offices, common study areas, consulting rooms, research spaces, training spaces, a 120 seat lecture theatre, bedrooms with ensuite accommodation, a shared kitchen and dining and living area. Further student accommodation is provided in a six bedroom home, which is fully furnished, and situated just 500 metres from the hospital campus.

Student life is full and diverse in Lithgow. Just two hours drive from Sydney with direct City rail links, Lithgow is located next to one of the most beautiful World Heritage sites on the planet. The city is big enough to offer all the cultural and sporting amenities of a metropolitan area, but far enough away from the high rents, endless traffic and cost of living that make life difficult for students. And the students who experience the benefits of living and working in a rural area are the ones who are more likely to stay.

“Students who study in a rural area and to have a greater affinity for rural life and are therefore more likely to remain in the country after post-graduate training and thus meet the needs of rural patients,” says Dr Dearin. “Rural Clinical Schools have been designed to address the mal-distribution of medical graduates by immersing students in rural life and demonstrating the attractive nature of rural medicine to them.”

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