Head of Rural Clinical School appointment

7 Jul 2021

Associate Professor Dr Riitta Partanen has been officially appointed as Head of The University of Queensland’s Rural Clinical School (UQRCS) after a competitive recruitment process.

Dr Partanen will make a smooth transition into the role, after acting as Interim Head of UQRCS since April 2020.

“I am looking forward to leading the UQRCS team; encouraging students from our regional, rural and remote communities to study medicine at UQ and to provide rich, immersive rural clinical learning for our medical students, as well as supporting interns and junior doctors in our communities,” she said.

Serving rural communities for over 27 years and being engaged in rural medical education for over 20 years, Dr Partanen has established a solid foundation of knowledge suited for the role.

Growing up in Tully, Dr Partanen went on to become a UQ medical graduate and, after her completing internship at the Mater Public Hospitals, she moved to Maryborough where she worked as a junior hospital doctor and then undertook her specialty training in General Practice. Riitta continues to be a GP in Maryborough.

Dr Partanen has worked for UQ since 2005, establishing UQRCS Hervey Bay, where she was the Director for 15 years and the GP Academic Lead for 13 years.

Over the years, she has served as a member of The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Rural Education Committee and was actively involved in the Wide Bay Division of General Practice, being Chair for her final two years with the Division.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working for UQ, seeing how positive learning experiences for our medical students in regional, rural and remote communities both increases their interest to and prepares them for work in these same communities,” she said.

“UQ provides short and long-term medical education across Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Darling Downs and South West Queensland and with nearly 40 per cent of our UQRCS graduates working in regional, rural and remote communities for their junior doctor years, we must be doing something right.”

And just in case she did not have enough on her plate Dr Partanen is a PhD Candidate undertaking research in the area of rural medical workforce.

Medical Dean and Deputy Executive Dean Professor Stuart Carney congratulated Dr Partanen on her appointment.

“Riitta is passionate about rural medical education, growing the rural medical workforce, and ensuring equitable access to health care for regional, rural, and remote communities,” he said.