Aims: The aims of this paper are to describe the University of Newcastle’s special entry pathway for Aboriginal candidates, the support programme and emphasis placed on aboriginal health throughout the Bachelor of Medicine curriculum.Outcome evaluation data are also presented with respect to the special entry candidates.
Setting: There are eight additional places provided for Aboriginal Medical students at Newcastle for each year of entry to the course. Candidates are selected on a unique criteria, party determined by Aboriginal communities. The academic standard required for entry is different to that required of non Aboriginal students. Once admitted there is an intensive support programme for students. Student progress is evaluated and data are available to the Faculty so that improvements can be made.
Outcomes: Over the fourteen years of the special entry programme, 57 students have been admitted to the course, 18 have graduated and 18 have withdrawn or been excluded from the course. Of the 57 students who have entered the course, 53% were males, 70% originated from New South Wales or Queensland, 55% originate from rural and remote backgrounds and 58% have previous tertiary educational experience. 70% of the candidates pass the first year of the course on their initial attempt. Progression rates do not improve substantially until forth and fifth year, at which time 92 and 100% of students respectively pass on their attempt.
Conclusions: There is clearly some way to go in order to improve the outcomes of Aboriginal students in terms of progress, retention and graduate numbers. Despite this, by 1998 The University of Newcastle has graduated a substantial proportion of Australia’s Aboriginal doctors. Ours provides a successful model that other institutions may adapt and use in order to redress current inequalities.