UQ welcomes its first cohort of Darling Downs – South West Medical Pathway Students

14 Feb 2024

The University of Queensland warmly welcomed the future doctors for the Darling Downs – South West regions, celebrating the commencement of the inaugural Graduate Entry cohort of the Darling Downs – South West Medical Pathway.

35 students will spend their first year studying in Brisbane before transitioning to the regions for the remainder of their studies at UQ’s Toowoomba Regional Clinical Unit. From 2026, students will be able complete their entire medical degree in the Darling Downs-South West (DD-SW) regions thanks to the new pathway.

UQ welcomes its first cohort of Darling Downs – South West Medical Pathway Students

The DD-SW Medical Pathway is a collaborative initiative between The University of Queensland, The University of Southern Queensland and health services Darling Downs Health and South West Hospital and Health Service.

Dr Carl de Wet, Executive Director of Medical Services and Clinical Governance at South West Hospital and Health Service, expressed their gratitude in meeting the first cohort.

"The welcome event was an inspiring celebration, which showcased the vision to strengthen and build medical capacity and capability for all of Queensland, including the rural and remote communities,” Dr de Wet said.

UQ Medical School Dean Professor Stuart Carney shared similar sentiments, emphasising the significance of the occasion.

"The welcome event was a lovely way to mark this pivotal moment for UQ and our Medical Pathway partners. We are committed to nurturing a rural medical workforce, ensuring our students are not just educated, but deeply embedded in the communities they will one day serve," Professor Carney said.

First year Darling Downs – South West Medical Pathway student Mitchell Lindsay talked about his passion for rural medicine and his experience so far.

“Medicine has always been a goal of mine. Growing up in Stanthorpe I have an appreciation of what country towns are like and have to offer. I knew that if I were to undertake The DD-SW Medical Pathway, I would be able to experience rural life again.

“Applying to the Darling-Downs South West pathway was an easy decision for me. I really look forward to moving out to Toowoomba, making new memories, and being part of a tight-knit student family that grow together and become the best doctors we can be,” he said.

Associate Professor Catherine McDougall, Chief Medical Officer, Qld Health, highlighted the importance of establishing connections with communities.

"The Medical Pathways is about establishing connection - connection to a place and its people. It's how we will ensure the sustainability of high-quality health care for our regional and rural communities into the future," Associate Professor McDougall said.

The Darling Downs – South West Medical Pathway serves as an evidence-based workforce strategy aimed at enhancing health outcomes in regional, rural, and remote Queensland. The success of our endeavours will be a positive, sustained improvement in the health outcomes for our communities through the creation of a medical workforce with the skills and commitment to establish long-term careers in these regions.

During the inaugural welcome event, the new students were warmly embraced into the Brisbane community alongside their Central Queensland-Wide Bay Regional Medical Pathway students, with recognition of their future commitment of service in the regions.

Research underscores that early exposure to rural medicine and repeated placements in rural settings positively influence students' intentions to pursue careers in rural healthcare.

Learn more about the Darling Downs – South West Medical Pathway