Budding doctors from across the country are touring Warrnambool and the south-west in the hopes an immersion program will convince them to live and work in the region.
Fourteen first-year students from Deakin University's pilot Rural Training Stream are on a three-day tour of the city, visiting both clinical facilities and tourist sites.
Deakin Rural Community Clinical School associate professor Lara Fuller said the program aims to address the shortage of doctors living and working in the region.
"The program we have running throughout July will give many of our first-year medical students - including the Rural Training Stream students - an opportunity to visit clinical training sites across south-west Victoria," she said.
"These students will spend time in hospitals, general practices and health care clinics and see first-hand how medical care is delivered to Victorian rural communities.
"These visits will also help them build relationships within those communities by connecting them with country and significant sites, community groups and organisations.
"We've designed this as a completely immersive experience so that our students get to know these communities because we know that graduate doctors are more likely to work in country areas when they feel a sense of community and belonging to those areas."
A second cohort of fourteen students will arrive in Warrnambool next week. Some of the 90 students involved in the program will go on to visit areas including Colac, Portland, Hamilton and Camperdown.
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First-year medical student Erin Keegan, from Warrnambool, said she was not only happy to return home but to hear many of her peers were considering a move to the city after day one of the tour.
"Even the people who sort of came to rule it out as an option have almost changed their mind," she said.
"I think it's the coastal vibe and a few of them said as they were walking down the street people just talked to them and didn't even know who they were.
"That real community vibe and everyone's really happy with the hospital too, the staff are incredible they've got great support systems, the students we talked to today are nothing but happy to be here. they're supported in small ratios, that's been a massive deciding factor for some.
"You don't get forgotten about like at the city hospitals."
She said some of the students came from Ballarat, Melbourne and even Queensland.
Deputy director of clinical studies for the Warrnambool Clinical School Brendan Condon said the program was full of non-educational activities.
"It's just about getting a feeling of what it would be like to live in Warrnambool for two years," he said.
"One part of it is about studying, but while they're doing it they've got to live. It's about whether they want to live by the ocean - it's the whole package so it's a bit of a taste of what it would be like to be in training for two years."
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