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Bright times ahead for UNSW's Albury campus

And, as the Albury surgeon steps into a new role as head at the University of NSW’s rural medical school on the Border, it’s one that will surely guide him through.

“I firmly believe that if we don’t teach the next generation, then who will be there to take care of us in the future,” he said.

“And hopefully, I’ve got something to teach them.”

On the latter point, Dr Bright should have no qualms given his long history of both clinical practice and as a medical educator in the region.

He replaced Peter Vine as head in January this year, filling the shoes of the man who has overseen the UNSW rural medical school from its very beginning about 15 years ago.

Dr Bright had his own hand in training and education in those early days, often having students in his practice rooms and running numerous tutorials.

He sees the UNSW program as “invaluable” not just to the Border but the wider world of rural and regional health.

“I can remember Albury Base before the school was here,” he said, “and since then there’s been a real change in the culture of medical education around town.

“It relies a lot on volunteers, on clinicians giving up their time to lecture ... the university has an excellent relationship with the medical professionals around town.”

Given it can take 15 years to go from med student to specialist, NSW is just starting to see the flow-on effects of running schools in regional areas.

“We’re getting fairly strong retention rates — once people get here and like it, they tend to stay,” he said.

That in itself is something Dr Bright knows to a degree: after training in Melbourne and working in London for 2½ years, he began work in Albury in 1991, where he has remained since as a general surgeon.

He was director of surgery at Albury Wodonga Health until October last year and has been closely involved in setting up cancer services in the region.

On top of that is 22 years service to Yarrawonga Health. That service nominated him for a Victorian Rural Health Award and he received the medical specialist award for outstanding service to medical outreach services.

For the future of UNSW in Albury, Dr Bright is hoping to see a greater focus on research.

Discover more about UNSW's Rural Clincal School and how it helps train the next generation of rural and Indigenous doctors here.

Article written by By NATALIE KOTSIOS. First published in the Border Mail.