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From 1996 until 1999 the Commonwealth Government of Australia, Rural Undergraduate Support and Coordination (RUSC) Program funded the development of a curriculum unit at Monash University , teaching about issues for female rural doctors to encourage female students to consider rural medical practice. This was called the Women in Rural Practice Project. Three major issues prompted the government to identify community needs and take action to fund change within the medical curriculum: the long-standing shortage of doctors, particularly female doctors, working in rural and remote Australia (a world-wide phenomenon); the political imperative to improve health services to rural and remote Australians and finally the changing sex ratio of the medical student body.

The project was modelled on an action research methodology; design, deliver, evaluate and redesign. The process of delivering and evaluating this material to both male and female students revealed that gender issues were not only important to female students but to male students as well. Good research design meant that the project uncovered changing needs and desires amongst medical students. So from 1999-2001 the project evolved into the Gender Issues in Rural Practice Project and with continuing funding from the Commonwealth Government was extended to include teaching about gender issues for doctors, and became part of the core curriculum for 6 th Year medical students at Monash.

Content by Ann-Maree Nobelius, 23 June 2004