Another McCusker enters medical school

Thursday, 20 January 2005

The rural community of Mount Gambier will be hoping that Robert McCusker, on completion of his medical studies at the University of Adelaide, will follow his father Dr Barney McCusker and practise in his hometown.

Still elated by the offer he received this week from the University of Adelaide's Medical School, the Mount Gambier High School graduate said he always wanted to study medicine and practise in the country.

"My first reaction was one of disbelief. After completing the admissions process and seeing all the exceptionally smart kids applying, I had my doubts," he said today. "I am now extremely excited and I cannot wait to get started."

His father is a highly respected orthapaedic surgeon in Mount Gambier and also studied medicine at the University of Adelaide.

Robert, who will be joined in Adelaide by twin brother Doug who will be undertaking Design Studies, said he would have studied Physiotherapy had he not won a medical place.

In doing Year 12 over two years, Robert achieved a TER of 98.7 after studying Mathematics Studies, English Studies, Chemistry, Physics, Design Practical, Art and Physical Education.

Professor Derek Frewin, Executive Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, said the University has made a number of offers to rural students and hoped they would return to the country after graduating.

"We have sent offers to students from areas such as Mount Gambier, Murray Bridge, Tailem Bend and Strathalbyn," he said. "Of the interstate students who have received offers, I will be strongly encouraging them to remain and practise in South Australia after graduating. I will also be working closely with the South Australian Department of Health to achieve this outcome," Professor Frewin said.

He added that through the Medical Rural Bonded Scholarship program, the University is able to build capacity in rural areas of the state.

The University of Adelaide's Medical School has a selection process based on a national written examination of logical reasoning and problem solving; interaction skills and non-verbal reasoning; a 45-minute structured interview or oral assessment, and a threshold TER.

This process has received strong endorsements from respected bodies and individuals such as the State Ombudsman, the Equal Opportunity Commissioner, the Australian Medical Council and the Committee of Deans of Australian Medical Schools.

Despite the demand for this program, the University is only permitted to make 104 places available, in accordance with Federal Government allocations. Professor Frewin said the final quota would comprise 75 Commonwealth-supported places, 13 Bonded Medical Places, six Medical Rural Bonded Scholarships and 10 Australian Fee-Based Enrolment (see definitions at foot of release).

-- Under Commonwealth supported or what used to be called HECS (Higher Education Contribution Scheme), students contribute to the cost of their program by making a payment to the Commonwealth Government, and the Government then subsidises their place. The Government determines the number of these subsidised places in each program.
-- A bonding period of six years will apply to students accepting a Bonded Medical School Place. The six-year bonding period starts when students have completed their vocational training and obtained Fellowship, except where vocational training is undertaken in rural areas. In this latter event up to three years of vocational training undertaken in rural areas can be counted against the bonding period.
-- The Medical Rural Bonded (MRB) Scholarships provide scholarships to new medical students prepared to commit to at least six years of rural practice, once they complete their basic medical and postgraduate training. The MRB Scholarship, worth over $20,000 per annum, is currently tax free and indexed annually. The Scheme aims to increase the number of doctors practising in rural and remote communities, and is part of a long-term strategy by the Australian Government to boost and strengthen the nation's rural medical workforce.
-- An Australian Fee-Based Enrolment (AFBE) place means that the student is responsible for the real cost of their program. In the fee-based system, students pay a set fee for their program directly to the University, but the University determines who qualifies for a place.


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