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Value adding through regional coordination of rural placements for all health disciplines: The Broken Hill experience


David Lyle, Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health, University of Sydney, PO Box 457, Broken Hill, New South Wales, 2880, Australia. Email:


Objective:  To describe the experience of the University of Sydney’s Broken Hill Department of Rural Health (BHUDRH) delivering a regional program in far western NSW.

Design:  Case Study

Setting:  The Australian Government’s University Departments of Rural Health Program, established in 1997, has been responsible for setting up regionally coordinated rural placement programs for students from all health disciplines in each state and territory.

Results:  Over nine years the BHUDRH has harnessed both academic and administrative resources to achieve greater efficiency in program delivery, increased support for students during their placement, and enhanced educational opportunities that draw on regional issues. The Broken Hill program accepts students from 22 Australian universities and places more students in the region, for longer periods than previously (271 students in 2005 compared with 140 students in 1998).

Conclusion:  Regional coordination, linked to investments in rural-based infrastructure and support systems can provide a sustainable platform from which to provide quality rural placements for students from all health disciplines, while at the same time increasing regional capacity to take students.