7 November 2001

Dr John Birks, newly appointed Regional Head of The University of Queensland’s Rural Clinical Division, today welcomed the establishment of first-class medical student training in Central Queensland as a significant step towards attracting more doctors to rural and regional areas.

“By providing quality training locally for University of Queensland medical students, we can hope to see increased recruitment of GPs and specialists to our local communities,” Dr Birks said.

A former specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist of some 25 years’ experience in Rockhampton, Dr Birks has been appointed by the University of Queensland to head up its new Rural Clinical Division’s CQ regional base. A second major regional base will operate from Toowoomba.

For the last three years Dr Birks has been heavily involved in rural medical education, both for Queensland Health and the University of Queensland, and looks forward to strengthening this partnership through the provision of non-metropolitan training within the UQ Medical School program.

“The Rural Clinical Division of the UQ School of Medicine will bring medical student training to regional, rural and remote Central Queensland - the long-term benefits of which will include increased recruitment of GPs and specialists to these areas,” Dr Birks said.

“Although the CQ administrative centre will be based in Rockhampton, many students will be taught in places as diverse as Springsure, Winton, Childers and Gayndah.

“The quality of the teaching will be first-rate and the variety of cases and experiences brought to the students by rural practitioners will ensure that, on qualification, these students will be well-trained and competent.”

Dr Birks will be supported by Dr Llew Davies, a former Mackay-based senior specialist physician, who has been appointed CQ region’s Clinical Warden.

Head of UQ’s School of Medicine Professor Ken Donald said the appointment of two specialists as highly regarded and committed to rural education as Dr Birks and Dr Davies augured well for the future of the Rural Clinical Division.

“Both doctors have a wide knowledge of rural issues and a strong belief in the value of high-quality medical training offered within regional and rural settings,” Prof Donald said.

“Experience has shown that students who spend the whole or most of their last two years of training in properly supported rural practices can learn in some ways better than students based in the city. I am confident this will prove the case within the CQ region.”

For further information, please contact Carrie Schofield (telephone 07 3346 4713) or Dr John Birks (telephone 07 4920 6514).