Rural Clinical School of WA

Transforming lives and improving health outcomes in rural communities

The Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA) helps rural communities sustain a locally trained and loyal medical workforce by placing medical students in country regions. Under the program, students gain valuable hands-on experience, enjoy close mentoring and are more likely to return to rural towns after they graduate.

The RCSWA offers placements in 14 rural towns between Kununurra and Esperance, and more than 90 students a year are selected to spend their penultimate year of study in these locations. Students work in small teams with local academic staff, doctors, medical professionals and mentors, and in health services including paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, internal medicine, Indigenous health and general practice.

The RCSWA aims to drive a larger presence of doctors into country towns that face health and medical welfare challenges, while giving student doctors the chance to learn from real-life experiences. Peer-reviewed research shows students who undertake an RCSWA placement are four times more likely to return to work in the country compared to others. 


The RCSWA program is a professional and personal enrichment opportunity. It is a year-long program undertaken in the second last year of the medical degree. Students are placed at one of 14 sites around the state.


  • is nationally regarded for curriculum innovation and excellence in delivery
  • has course objectives and outcomes identical to those completed by city-based students with the learning tailored and delivered to the needs of the community
  • allows for students to gain practical learning opportunities, as well as clinical placements at local hospitals, general practices, community and remote clinics, and Aboriginal medical centres
  • is the only collaborative rural clinical school in the State
  • has assisted in training more than 1000 doctors since 2002

Why get involved?

As a leading and competitive health education program, only a third or so of eligible UWA and Notre Dame medical students can participate each year.  As with city-based students, those in the program must adhere to rigorous standards and achieve at least comparable results, while gaining increased practical experience. Our students often find the program enriching, both professionally and personally, with rural communities and students continually giving positive feedback on the benefits of the program.

Students are placed at local hospitals, general practices, community and remote clinics, and Aboriginal medical centres. The curriculum you are taught will depend on where you are placed. Many students in the program get involved with local sporting teams, or volunteer their time at charity organisations and emergency services. The community spirit is strong in rural regions and RCSWA program participants take advantage of these experiences.

Meet Kelsey Sweeney, A RCSWA program student

A day in the life of a rural doctor



Skills-based workshops 

Students are required to participate in workshops to develop the skills needed to administer medical attention to patients. Students in Esperance take part in a Procedural Workshop which involves airway management, suturing, catheterisation, joint aspiration, digital nerve blocks, cannulation and plastering.

car crash rescue simulation


Hands-on experience

Students and local volunteers simulate real life crisis situations in Narrogin, including a snake bike, an accident involving a vehicle, a quad bike rollover and a chemical burn.

The day was run really well with a number of stations mirroring what we may see in the hospital. Being able to adapt to the situation and practise our first aid skills was great.Medical student talking about the rural simulated environment exercise
The clinical and practical skills and knowledge of the people who had completed RCSWA were leaps and bounds ahead of the ones who hadn’t. GP registrar, Kununurra

Related course

Doctor of Medicine

The Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree is a four-year, full-time professional degree course. Students in their third year of this degree are eligible to apply for the RCSWA program.

Find out more 

When to apply

Students from UWA and Notre Dame who have completed the second year of the MD degree can apply for the RCSWA.

Financial aid

Students undergoing financial hardship may be eligible for a Hardship Bursary. The application deadline for this is mid-February each year, with a specific deadline communicated via email in January. Late applications are considered throughout the year.

Students applying for the Hardship Bursary should make an appointment with their Academic Services Officer, who will be able to provide more information on what can be reasonably accepted as hardship as well as helping source part-time work.

School specialisations

These specialisations examine the key ideas behind teaching, research and practice philosophy. A community of practice enhances the courses, with fortnightly video-conferencing and skill sharing among postgraduates.

Research overview

The RCSWA focuses its research on health issues relevant to rural and remote communities, in particular those which cannot be explored in a city environment. The School has four research hubs at Broome, Bunbury, Kalgoorlie and Albany. These hubs support smaller sites with their research in different surrounding regions.

Research aims to produce better health outcomes within rural and Aboriginal communities across WA on the health issues they feel are most important. Findings are then used to help improve healthcare and educate the health and medical workforce. Research specialisations include diabetes, kidney disease, social and emotional wellbeing, and improving health services.

The School’s researchers regularly collaborate with Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS), a regional Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS), providing a collective voice and health support for towns and remote communities across Western Australia.

It also works with The Western Desert Kidney Project, which aims to reduce diabetes and kidney disease in rural communities, and the University Aboriginal Child Health Group.

RCSWA has a large number of research opportunities available to students, and supports the collaboration between students or early researchers and those with more established careers. 

For more information on research areas, contact Associate Professor Denese Playford.

Our locations

The RCSWA ensures students are accommodated comfortably and have access to the same or similar facilities as those enjoyed at home.

Our main administrative hub is in Kalgoorlie, with leaders and other staff situated at multiple sites across the State. The RCSWA also has a central point of contact in N Block at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences building at the UWA Health Campus.

Each of our rural locations includes an administrative and teaching centre with a medical library, internet, computers, printers, photocopiers and video-conferencing equipment.

Student accommodation consists of fully equipped and furnished homes with Wi-Fi. Our sites are listed below.

I spent my RCSWA year in the Wheatbelt town of Narrogin. I had a wonderful time and found it to be a great clinical experience. Being at a small site meant there was continuity of care. I would see patients in GP, then in ED or the maternity ward and also with visiting specialists, which provided fantastic learning opportunities. The year allowed me to properly explore the role of a country GP and see just how diverse the job can be. Madeleine Gryta, RCSWA 2017, Narrogin

Contact the Rural Clinical School’s Kalgoorlie Administrative Headquarters

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Rear Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital, St Alban's Road, Kalgoorlie

CRICOS Code: 00126G
Tuesday, 18 December 2018 10:29 AM (this date excludes nested assets)
[email protected]
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