Our Aim and Interests
We aim to provide the best possible educational experience in rural health for medical, nursing and allied health students, and to facilitate continuing professional development for rural health practitioners. We have a strong interest in health services and systems research and development and are uniquely and ideally placed to support interdisciplinary education, and to integrate research into our education programs.
Our Origins and Development
The University Centre for Rural Health – North Coast (UCRH) has grown from the foundation in 2001 of the Northern Rivers University Department of Rural Health, through the foresight and goodwill of local leadership, Sydney University and the regional Health Service, now Northern NSW Local Health District.
From the original inception of our organisation we have assisted a range of undergraduate students from across the health disciplines to undertake placement in the area’s hospitals, GP practices and primary health care settings. This has been possible because of funding provided by the Commonwealth Department of Health.
Our collaboration with the Universities of Wollongong and Western Sydney since 2007 has provided placements for “long stay” medical students in addition to our shorter stay students. This major collaboration by these universities and new funding from the Commonwealth Department of Health for rural placements for allied health, pharmacy and dental students has greatly expanded the medical education and other opportunities for health education in the NSW Northern Rivers area.
Our current Work and Facilities
We currently provide placements for around 700 students from a variety of health disciplines and universities. We have campuses in Lismore, Murwillumbah and Grafton, and place students in all of these locations. While Lismore is our main base, Murwillumbah and Grafton also have excellent accommodation and teaching facilities, including high quality simulation equipment.
Alongside our very successful education programs we have gained a national and international reputation for research. Our research priorities are rural health services, public health and rural workforce, with Aboriginal health, maternal and child health, chronic disease, environmental and mental health running through these topics. We strive to do research that makes a real difference to regional communities and service providers. UCRH researchers have been highly successful in gaining NHMRC and ARC grants, and have built a strong program for supporting postgraduate research students and providing research to local health professionals.
We also support continuing professional education (CPD) for local clinicians. Through our simulation facilities our role in CPD has increased, and we are actively reaching out to those in Aged Care, General Practice and other fields to help with routine skill-updates, or in some cases expansion of service.
In a relatively short period of time, the UCRH has established a reputation for educational excellence and research relevance in the regional, national and international health care environments. We have assisted health professional students from across Australia to add value to their academic training through professionally supervised placements in diverse health settings – from the area’s regional hospitals to its outlying district facilities or clinics, general practice and community, and the Aboriginal Medical Services which provide excellent services for communities in the region.
We are heartened by the positive feedback received from the many dedicated clinicians who are helping train the next generation of health professionals, and from the students themselves who find living and training in the NSW Northern Rivers a rewarding professional and social experience.
Our Invitation to you
Whether you are an undergraduate in a clinical degree program or a qualified, even highly experienced, local clinician, we invite you to contact us to discuss clinical placements, professional learning or skills updating using our simulation facilities, or to engage with our research team.
We hope to have the opportunity of welcoming you to the UCRH family.