UNSW is tackling the shortage of rural doctors head on, and the approach is already paying dividends on the NSW Mid-North Coast.

UNSW's Rural Clinical School program trains medical students in its four campuses and "early indications are that these students are opting to return as doctors to work in these areas," says Professor Louis Pilotto, Head of the Rural Clinical School.

The School started eight years ago in Wagga Wagga and quickly grew to have other sites at Albury Wodonga, Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour.

As part of UNSW's commitment to the program, a state-of-the art building was opened at Port Macquarie this week. The building, which cost almost $4 million, will help cement Port Macquarie's future health services.

"Students recently graduated from this campus are returning as Junior Medical Officers and Specialist Trainees," says Associate Professor Peter Reed, the head of UNSW's Port Macquarie campus. "Some established specialists and GPs in this area have been previous trainees."

UNSW's Deputy Chancellor, Gabrielle Upton, who opened the new building, says the endeavour is a sign of UNSW's commitment to the broader community.

"UNSW was the first university in Australia to set up a Rural Clinical School. We are proud of our engagement with these local communities and look forward to strengthening the association," she said.

"I am personally a strong supporter of the establishment of the School and the rural education of medical students in Australia."

The Dean of Medicine, Professor Peter Smith, says: "It is another sign of the Faculty of Medicine's relevance to the public through research and teaching. Not only are we trying to address the shortage of doctors in regional areas, we are also tackling the shortage of radiologists and pathologists through a separate initiative".

All undergraduate medical students are able to spend time in their final years at the Rural Clinical School. There are currently 25 students studying at Port Macquarie in the final years of their medical program.

The building was funded by the Commonwealth Government Department of Health and Ageing.

Media Contact: Susi Hamilton, UNSW media, 9385 1583, 0422 934 024, susi.hamilton@unsw.edu.au