Emerging health professionals in the region could soon receive a $5000 boost towards their university studies. Created to support rural health, the Dr William Hunter Scholarship is available to second year medical, allied health and nursing students from the Moree, Warialda, Bingara and Collarenebri communities.
Applications are open until September 30, 2019.
“I’m very conscious that smaller regional country towns have trouble attracting health professionals, and people in those towns who want careers have trouble financially because they have to travel a lot for study,” Dr Hunter said.
A retired GP and surgeon who spent much of his career in the Moree area, Dr Hunter is passionate about improving health in the country.
He said the funds are available to health students “across the board” to address the wide variety of shortages in rural hospitals.
Over its 15 year history, the scholarship has supported nurses, physiotherapists, doctors, speech pathologists, radiology technicians, pharmacists and dietitians.
“I’ve been very impressed with all of them,” Dr Hunter said. “It really does inspire me, their commitment to what they’re doing and to coming (to this area).”
He felt that students with a rural background have a unique understanding of the challenges facing country people, and the need for more health professionals.
He also noted that students taking part in country placements are often given wider and more hands-on experience than those training in the city.
Applicants must be in their second year or above of an undergraduate medical, allied health or nursing degree at any Australian university, and cannot currently be receiving payments from another scholarship.
The recipient/s will agree to spend two weeks at a student placement in the Moree Shire, or a week in Warialda/Collarenebri and another in Moree, to be funded by the scholarship.
The $5000 will be paid in three installments over the course of the academic year, and will assist with rent, books and associated university costs.
Reliant on support from the community, Dr Hunter said he would love to see the scholarship grow in the future.
He said all donations go directly to the scholarship fund. The Dr William Hunter Scholarship was established in 2004 by the Barwon Division of General Practice.