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Filling the gap in rural medicine

Group of students posing for a photo at a medical pathway event, standing in front of a banner.
Sixteen students were selected for the 2024 cohort of the Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences (Medicine Pathway).

The next generation of homegrown doctors in the Darling Downs and South-West regions will receive their stethoscopes and be officially welcomed to the University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ) in Toowoomba today.

Sixteen students were selected for the 2024 cohort of the Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences (Medicine Pathway), with graduates of the program eligible to move directly into The University of Queensland’s Doctor of Medicine at The University of Queensland (UQ) Rural Clinical School - Toowoomba Regional Clinical Unit as part of a collaboration between the two universities, Darling Downs Health and the South-West Hospital and Health Service.

One of those students is Annabelle Laird, from Toowoomba. We got to know her a little better!

Why were you drawn to the Medicine Pathway Program at UniSQ?

I was drawn to the UniSQ Medical Pathway program for many reasons. After completing work experience with multiple health professionals, I was made aware of the strong need for doctors in rural/remote/regional areas. Already wanting to be a doctor, finding out about this lack of professionals really solidified my goals for my future as a clinician in a remote area. In Grade 10, I completed a HeadStart via UniSQ in Human Anatomy and Physiology 1 and thoroughly enjoyed it. It not only helped with my studies at school, but also gave me a taste of the UniSQ culture. A few months after completing this subject, I found out that UniSQ would be partnering with UQ to implement a medical program in Toowoomba; with the explicit intention of enlarging the medical workforce in rural, remote, and regional areas. I was thrilled to hear this news, and, already living in Toowoomba, was excited that I had the opportunity to not only stay in this city and continue my extracurricular activities, but also attend UniSQ and help fill a need in remote areas.

Why did you want to be a doctor/study medicine?

During school, I realised that I really wanted to engage in a degree that was both challenging and rewarding, with a specific focus on the structures and functions of the human body. As mentioned above, I completed work experience with multiple allied health professionals and loved it. I have also witnessed doctors interacting with their patients and have been very impressed with their bedside manners as well as their vast knowledge of the human body. Also having learnt about the gaping need for remote doctors, I realised that this would be an occupation that would benefit communities that need help. Some of my family members live in rural locations and, due to the lack of healthcare, have had to wait for long periods of time when an emergency occurs. By becoming a doctor, I hope to help people in similar situations and give back to the community.

What are you most excited about to be studying in the Medical Pathway Program?

Honestly, too many things! I can't wait to complete more biology-related subjects and learn more about the human body. As we will be undertaking the Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences first, this will mean interacting with students studying other allied health degrees who will no doubt provide invaluable information.

Have you got an end goal/dream career in mind that you're working towards?

At this stage, I would love to specialise as an obstetrician/gynaecologist in a remote area. However, having only just started my medical degree, I am aware that this may change as other specialities pique my interest.

The Medical Pathway allows university students to complete all of their undergraduate and postgraduate studies as well as their clinical training in the regions, with Darling Downs Health and South-West Hospital and Health Service to provide student placements, clinical training, and specialist training.

The Medical Pathway is an evidence-based workforce strategy designed to improve health outcomes in regional, rural, and remote Queensland by increasing capacity in our rural medical workforce as well as provide opportunities for local students to study medicine close to home.

Learn more about the University of Southern Queensland’s Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences (Medicine Pathway).